GASUNIE TRANSPORT SERVICES
Multi-year replacement programme
Much of the gas transport system is now of an age that it needs systematic, planned replacement or reconditioning if it is to meet future standards in safety and transport security. In 2012, GTS therefore undertook an extensive investigation to determine which elements in the network would need replacement and when. On the basis of this analysis, GTS then launched a multi-year programme for replacing ageing parts. The new parts, like the current ones, have a long life expectancy, and will thus ensure long-term security of supply. The programme, which will run for 15-20 years, will concentrate on the replacement of valve stations, gas receiving stations, and metering and regulating stations.
Leading position of Dutch gas trading point TTF
TTF is the virtual trading point in the Netherlands for the trading of gas. In 2012, the volume of trading at TTF showed spectacular growth of almost 20%. This further strengthens the leading position of TTF on mainland Europe, and underscores the increasingly important role played by the Netherlands as a ‘gas roundabout’ in the European gas market.
On 8 November 2012, after a lengthy process, the CBb (the Dutch Industrial Appeals Tribunal) ruled that the regulatory framework established by the NMa (the Dutch Competition Authority) for the previous and current regulatory periods could remain in force. For GTS, which took a transparent and constructive stance in the proceedings, the outcome at least provides more clarity about the current method decisions and the present regulatory period. It is expected that new method decisions, to be taken in 2013, will clarify the situation for the regulatory period starting on 1 January 2014.
The European Third Energy Package requires TSOs to be certified. Meanwhile, in consultation with the NMa, GTS has already started the certification procedure, and expects to receive certification from the NMa in 2013. Given the current organisational structure of Gasunie, it has been decided, in line with the wishes of the NMa, to transfer ownership of the Dutch gas transport network as of 1 January 2014 from Gasunie to GTS.
PRISMA European Capacity Platform
Since 1 January 2013, PRISMA European Capacity Platform has become the new brand for European gas capacity bookings. GTS, which took the initiative in setting up PRISMA, is co-shareholder of PRISMA. This new, joint capacity platform is an important step towards an integrated European gas market, connecting the gas markets in seven European countries. Standardisation at European level makes it easier for customers to regulate and trade border capacity, and it stimulates the development of a European market. PRISMA opens up new possibilities for cross-border gas transport. Now, gas traders or shippers, can book cross-border capacity at the European network points, using just one program. This European capacity platform fits in with the broader strategy of European TSOs to pool their joint experience in the area of gas transport and capacity bookings to create new services. At the European Gas Conference in Vienna, PRISMA was voted Project of the Year. The project also aims to accelerate the introduction of the network code for Capacity Allocation Mechanisms (NC CAM) of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG), the future market regulation for the allocation of transport capacity.
NTA 8120 standard
In 2012, we began to introduce the Netherlands Technical Agreement (NTA) 8120 standard. This is a capacity management system designed to achieve the efficient and optimum management of the gas transport network. Key concerns will be safety, efficiency and security of supply. This project will be continued in 2013, with the ultimate goal of obtaining NTA 8120 certification.
Preparation for increasing the diversity of types of gas
GTS is also preparing for the import into the Netherlands of larger volumes of gas in the years ahead. The falling production of low-calorific Groningen gas (G gas) means that the Netherlands will eventually need to transfer to richer, high-calorific gas (H gas). To make H gas suitable for use in the Netherlands (where equipment is geared to G gas), the proportion of nitrogen in it needs to be increased. For this purpose, GTS opened a nitrogen buffer at Heiligerlee (near Groningen) in November 2012. This will enable GTS to ensure that sufficient gas of the right quality will be available at peak times.
In 2012, GTS held talks with the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs, GasTerra and foreign parties to try to set in motion the market conversion of G gas to H gas in those areas in Northern Germany, Belgium and Northern France that currently use low-calorific gas.
In 2012, we launched a number of infrastructure projects in Germany. One of these is ExEll, which was designed to create extra transport capacity between Germany and Denmark. Denmark has long been an exporter of natural gas to Germany, but because Danish gas reserves have rapidly declined, Denmark now has to import gas. This gas serves to create stability in the energy system, by evening out fluctuations in the production of wind and solar energy.
At the Ellund border point, a need for extra transport capacity has now arisen. To resolve this issue, a 65km pipeline will be laid from Fockbek to Ellund, and a new compressor station will be built at Quarnstedt, north of Hamburg. Phase 1 of this operation was started in 2012, and approval has meanwhile been granted for Phase 2 to start in 2013. Construction of the new compressor station is expected to start in the second half of 2013, and the laying of the pipeline in 2014. Both are scheduled to be ready before the end of 2015. As a result of these extensions, the Danish and Swedish gas markets will be linked to those of Gaspool and NetConnect Germany (NCG) in Germany and TTF in the Netherlands. In addition, gas can be transported via the new pipeline to the new gas-fired electricity power stations in the Hamburg and Sleeswijk-Holstein regions, which together contribute to the German 'Energiewende'.
Gas roundabout strategy
To secure the supply of foreign gas to Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and Belgium, we are taking steps to ensure that capacity can be increased where necessary. For example, in Germany, we are continuing to work on the Nordeuropäische Erdgasleitung (NEL). Our German network will be connected via NEL to Nord Stream. In Embsen a new compressor station is being built, which will make extra capacity available from NEL for transport to Denmark and Northern Germany. Gasunie has a 20% stake in NEL.
Power-to-gas is an important means of combining gas and electricity in the energy transition. The idea is to convert any surplus of sustainably generated electricity into hydrogen, which can then be injected into Gasunie’s gas infrastructure. In this way, the gas system becomes a means of both transporting and storing sustainable energy, thus contributing to the optimum exploitation of the infrastructure. It is a good example of how two energy systems can strengthen each other. In 2012, Gasunie Deutschland investigated the possibility of injecting hydrogen originating from power-to-gas directly into the transport system for natural gas. Gasunie Deutschland is actively looking for partners to develop power-to-gas further in 2013.
PARTICIPATIONS & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
The official inauguration of the second section of the Nord Stream pipeline on 8 October 2012 marked the end of the construction phase of the two parallel pipelines. The first section of the pipeline began operations in 2011. Nord Stream has sufficient capacity to supply 537 billion kWh (55 billion m3) of natural gas per year, enough for some 26 million households for at least fifty years. Gasunie has a 9% stake in Nord Stream.
In 2012, we continued to develop small-scale LNG, in part together with our partner Vopak. Vopak and Gasunie have signed a letter of intent for developing a new LNG Break Bulk terminal, with a transshipment capacity of 1.3 million tonnes of LNG per year. This proposed LNG terminal is in addition to the Gate terminal, which opened in 2011, for the large-scale importation of LNG. The new transshipment terminal is for the distribution of LNG to ships and filling stations for trucks and buses. From 2014, some 300 bunker vessels per year will be able to use this terminal to restock small terminals (e.g., in the Wadden Sea and North Sea and the Rotterdam-Basel stretch of the Rhine). An initial agreement was signed in 2012 with Shell, the launching customer for this terminal.
LNG initiative in the north of the Netherlands
The LNG initiatives of Vopak and Gasunie on the Maasvlakte (an area of reclaimed land near the port of Rotterdam) have given rise to various follow-up initiatives for the use of LNG as a clean alternative fuel for road freight. The Province of Groningen and the Energy Valley Foundation have joined forces to set up the Taskforce LNG Northern Netherlands. The aim is to set up a distribution chain within three years for the use of LNG in shipping and road freight in the region. This should help to reduce carbon emissions and fine particulate matter caused by the use of fuel oil and diesel. It is expected that this will serve to stimulate the development of the economy in that part of the country, opening up opportunities for the development of Wadden Sea harbours and closer cooperation with northern Germany, for instance.
In addition, in the first half of 2012, Participations & Business Development concentrated on preparing the possible acquisition of the Open Grid Europe network of E.ON, one of Germany’s largest gas transport networks. Together with partners and in consultation with the shareholder, a reasonable offer was made. In the end, however, the network was acquired by another consortium, which was prepared to pay more.