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The Transgaz factor

Lately, players have been trying to place their pieces on the regional chess board in favourable positions and are now preparing their future moves. Some have signalled their intentions early, through various actions, others have even stated them.

The latest developments, referring only to the beginning of this year, show a regional energy market in full swing.

Major infrastructure projects are taking shape in Romania, starting with 2018.

  • The construction of the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria gas pipeline (BRUA) – an investment estimated at EUR 480 million, whose priority objective is to increase Romania’s energy security. The pipeline will connect the gas trunklines from the four countries. On 28 November 2017, Transgaz signed the execution contracts for the first phase of the natural gas pipeline of 479 kilometres, between Podisor and Recas localities, and three compressor stations located in Podisor, Bibesti and Jupa.
  • The construction of Tuzla – Podisor pipeline, part of phase two of the BRUA project (investment estimated at over EUR 278 million), which would make the onshore connection between the offshore gas blocks from the Black Sea and the national transmission system.
  • The construction of Onesti – Ungheni pipeline, which will be connected to Iasi – Ungheni gas pipeline.
  • The construction of Ungheni – Chisinau pipeline. On 27 February, a Romanian Government delegation led by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila carried out a working visit in Chisinau. On this occasion, Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip announced that Transgaz had won the tender for the privatization of the gas transmission operator from the Republic of Moldova – Vestmoldtransgaz.
  • The interconnection of transit systems with the National Transmission System (NTS)
  • The rehabilitation of the NTS and of the distribution systems

In early February, on the occasion of celebrating 10 years since its listing on the stock exchange, Transgaz announced that it planned to implement 9 projects worth a total of EUR 1.6 billion by 2026. Also, in early February, Transgaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Eustream, the operator of the Slovak gas transmission system. Transgaz used this occasion to express its approval regarding the cooperation with the other TSOs in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria. This cooperation would be necessary in order to develop the Eastring gas project on the territories of Romania and Slovakia.

Transgaz is also interested in the privatization of DESFA, the Greek gas transmission operator, this year being the second time when the Romanian operator tries to join DESFA’s shareholding. It seems this time the odds are in its favour, the stake being serious, as Greece represents a key player in the diversification of gas supply in the region. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – two thirds completed, will go through Greece and connect to TANAP pipeline, thus enabling Caspian gas to reach Europe.

Invited for the first time to attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council (a priority energy project for the EU, estimated at USD 41.5 billion), Romania proposed the inclusion in the future plans for the expansion of the Southern Corridor of the infrastructure offered by the BRUA project, together with the interconnector between Romania and Bulgaria, for the transmission of natural gas from the Southern Corridor, through Romanian territory to Central Europe. The proposal comes to support the consolidation of the principle of diversification of gas supply routes and sources, as well as the important role of the Southern Corridor in increasing Europe’s energy security.

More recently, the name of Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis appears on Brussels’ list for the position of President of the European Council, given that Romania will take over the responsibility of the European Union’s Council Presidency starting January 1st 2019.

Romania currently has some important aces up its sleeve. It would be a shame not to be able to capitalize on them.