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Bridging borders: LNG integration within the Vertical Corridor Initiative

At the end of 2022, regional gas Transmission System Operators (TSOs) DESFA (Greece), Bulgartransgaz (Bulgaria), FGSZ (Hungary), Transgaz (Romania), ICGB (Bulgaria) and Gastrade (Greece) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing the Vertical Corridor, an ambitious project to enable bi-directional flows of natural gas from North to South and from South to North. One year later, also Eustream (Slovakia), GTSOU (Ukraine) and Vestmoldtransgaz (Moldova) joined the initiative. Several project proposals have been presented by the signatories for the capacity increase at different interconnection points. The joint target is to enable an increase from 5 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y) to 10 bcm/y.

And Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will play a significant role. First of all, thanks to the presence of two terminals in Greece: Revithoussa, which last year accounted for almost half Greece’s natural gas imports; and the Alexandroupolis terminal which will enter into operation soon and will have a maximum sustainable regasification capacity of 5.5 bcm/y. Second, because of the huge investments planned in the infrastructure and transmission capacity.

As Ion Sterian, CEO of Transgaz recalls, “The Vertical Corridor concept does not entail the construction of a new natural gas transmission pipeline system, but a natural gas transmission system that will connect existing national gas networks and other gas infrastructure to facilitate the transit of natural gas […] Such a system (consisting of national networks, interconnectors, LNG terminals and underground gas storage facilities) will form an important South-North corridor whose operation will be fully aligned with EU directives and European energy policy.”

The crucial role of Greece

“Natural gas will be transported through Greece to other countries via several entry and exit points and from different sources of supply (Azerbaijan, Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, Iran and so on),” Mr Sterian tells CEENERGYNEWS. “Thus, around 8 bcm of natural gas could be transported annually through Greece via the Vertical Corridor; therefore, Greece will need to develop the appropriate infrastructure to transport such volumes of gas.”

Also, Teodora Georgia, Executive Officer of ICGB, agrees that LNG investments will have to be taken into consideration, especially in Greece. In particular, speaking of the Alexandroupolis terminal, Ms Georgeva it as a project that “will boost even further the market interest in this route for secure, diversified natural gas deliveries.”

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