September 3, 2020 (05:42)

Eustream creates its way into the future

At present, the European gas industry and, above all, transmission system operators, are undergoing a period of radical change, starting with the application of common rules in accordance with European network codes, consolidating pan-European efforts to decarbonise Member States’ economies, introducing new innovative technologies to the gas market and even influencing geopolitical and epidemiological factors of the gas market.

Eustream believes that over the next 10 years, natural gas will maintain its important position in the energy balance of the European Union and will support the trend of low-carbon economic development. It is expected that natural gas in the EU will become one of the main sources of energy for electricity generation, a means of ensuring security of electricity supply and balancing of volatile renewable energy sources (RES), the share of which according to Energy Union regulations by 2030 should reach 32 %. Gas can also replace coal used in electricity generation.

At present, Slovak gas infrastructure requires investment to meet existing market needs. Another challenge is to meet the technical flexibility requirements of the network, which are important for ensuring its functionality and further integration into the pan-European energy system, in which the Slovak GTS, as well as natural gas, plays an indispensable role.

The Slovak GTS is an important energy link between the Russian Federation and the European Union. This role of the Slovak main pipeline system is due to the existing gas transmission routes in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary.

The transport system owned by Eustream consists of several parallel pipes with a diameter of 1200/1400 mm, a maximum operating pressure of 7.35 MPa and a total length of 2332.056 km. The Slovak GTS is capable of transporting up to 90 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The pressure required for a stable gas flow is provided by five compressor stations with a capacity of almost 550 MW each.

The most important is the compressor station located on the Slovak-Ukrainian border in Veľké Kapušany. Technical capacity at checkpoints from Ukraine (together with Veľké Kapušany and Budince) is almost 215 million cubic meters/day, which is approximately 77.5 billion cubic meters/year.

Currently, the total daily capacity of all interstate pipelines at the Slovak border, including Austria (Baumgarten), the Czech Republic (Lanžhot), Ukraine (Veľké Kapušany, Budince) and Hungary (Veľké Zlievce) is 429.14 million cubic meters of natural gas. All existing connections between the EU member states, as well as with Ukraine in the Budince, allow for the physical flow of gas in both directions.

The Slovak GTS remains an important transport corridor in the Central European region. In addition to the “historic” direction of gas flow from East to West, it has also become important for transport in the northern-southern direction, as well as from west to east, from the Czech Republic and Austria to Ukraine.

In addition to the transit of natural gas, an important task of Eustream is to ensure the transmission of gas to / from distribution networks and underground gas storage facilities (UGS) in Slovakia. The transport network on the one hand and the natural gas distribution and storage networks on the other, are interconnected through a system of gas metering stations (GMS), which serve as physical points of entry and exit to / from the transmission network.

Currently, there are 11 domestic GMS in the Slovak gas transmission system (Ruská, Rimavska Sobota, Starý Hrádok, Ivanka pri Nitre, Plavecký Peter, Špacince, Mikušovce, Ardovo, Gajary, Сentrálny areál Nafta, Kittsee) and one border GMS Veľké Kapušany/Budince. It is possible to measure the quantity and determine the quality of the transmitted / received gas in all these points.

Simultaneous interconnection of the transmission system with distribution networks and underground gas storage facilities (UGS) provides flexibility of the Slovak GTS. After the gas crisis of 2009, in the result of termination of gas supply from the Ukrainian side, when thousands of east Slovak companies could not get enough energy from underground storage facilities in the west of the country for 12 days and the economic losses reached EUR 1 billion, such capacity of the system became especially important.

Currently, the Slovak underground storage facilities with the capacity of 3 billion cubic meters of gas (neighboring Poland has a UGS of 2.9 billion cubic meters of gas) are concentrated in the Vienna Basin in western Slovakia and are operated by Nafta a.s. and Pozagas a.s. One of Nafta’s perspective projects is the construction of a new underground storage facility with a capacity of 340 million cubic meters of gas near the connection point Veľké Kapušany. The existing geological structure – depleted gas field (Ptrukša), located at a distance of about 1 km west of the Ukrainian border, is planned to be used for its construction.

The east Slovak UGS project has already received support from the European Commission and is included in the priority pan-European energy project North-South Gas Interconnections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe (NSI East Gas). It will have a significant cross-border impact on neighboring countries. The localization of the project is strategic, being placed on the eastern border of the European Union, in close proximity to one of the key points of entry of natural gas into the EU, in a place where an important gas pipeline to the Poland-Slovakia interconnector will be connected.

The project should serve not only as a natural gas storage facility, but also as an energy storage facility. This means that UGS Veľké Kapušany will be built in such a way that it will be possible to store energy in the form of hydrogen mixed with natural gas. This step will allow the development of new RES facilities in the region without negatively affecting electricity transmission systems, as well as contribute to the “greening” of the natural gas industry.

In fact, Eustream’s participation in such a project reflects some of the company’s two priorities:

1) Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the process of economic activity of the company and, thus, promoting the achievement of the ambitious goal – carbon neutrality of the European economy by 2050;

2) Introduction of modern approaches to the use of renewable gases (hydrogen, biomethane and synthetic methane) in the technological processes of the company.

Eustream’s efforts to minimize the impact of its activities on the environment are realized by investing significant funds in the purchase of new equipment and the introduction of eco-friendly technologies.

The main attention of research and analytical divisions of the company is paid to the study of technological, regulatory and economic aspects of transportation of renewable gases, first of all, hydrogen by main gas pipelines. The purpose of such research is to create conditions for the widespread use of H2NG (hydrogen in natural gas) mixtures through new knowledge about the technical impact on commercial gas appliances. In turn, this can help decarbonise industrial processes and sectors of the economy where reducing carbon emissions is both necessary and difficult to implement.

The company’s development is conducted in accordance with 10-year plans, which are made on the basis of long-term forecasts of natural gas transportation through Slovakia and consumption levels, analysis of gas infrastructure safety and the degree of use of the existing transmission network and taking into account environmental legislation.

The current Eustream Transmission Network Development Plan for 2020-2029 contains the following Eustream Transport Network Capacity Development Projects:

The Poland-Slovakia (PL-SK) interconnector project envisages the transportation of 6.1 billion cubic meters of gas / year towards Poland and 5.1 billion cubic meters of gas/ year towards Slovakia. The 162 km long gas pipeline route runs between Slovakia’s Veľké Kapušany and Poland’s Strachocina. The cost of the project is estimated at EUR 270 million; 40% of the amount or EUR 104.5 million was invested by the European Commission, of which Slovakia can use EUR 52 million. The PL-SK interconnector is included in the priority pan-European energy project NSI East Gas and is positioned as an important part of the north-south transit pipelines in the eastern part of the EU, which should transport gas from the Polish LNG terminal Świnoujście to the Croatian LNG terminal on the Krk island.

At present, 2/3 of the pipes are laid on the route, and half of the entire pipeline is refined into the ground. The commercial operation of the PL-SK interconnector is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.

Increasing the inlet capacity at the Lanžhot connection point and, thus, increasing the volume of physical gas transportation towards the exit points Baumgarten, Budince, Veľké Zlievce.

The aim of the project is to meet the existing needs of Eustream customers for the transportation of natural gas in the direction from the Czech Republic to Slovakia. The total daily capacity of the entry point after the implementation of the first stage of the project is 151 million cubic meters of gas, and following the results of the completion in 2025 of the second stage the total daily capacity will reach 168 million cubic meters per day.

The Eustream investment project to increase the capacity of the Veľké Zlievce connection point envisages a total daily output / input capacity of the connection point of 14.65 million cubic meters. The commissioning of the project will depend on market demand in connection with the development of natural gas production projects in the Black Sea region.

The implementation of the HUSK project will be facilitated by:

further diversification of natural gas resources due to connection to the RO-HU interconnector;

creating conditions for a competitive, liquid regional gas market and entering the market of new players;

improving security of gas supply in the region of Central and Eastern Europe through the creation of effective mechanisms for mutual response to crises using existing transmission networks;

emergence of new opportunities for price arbitrage in Central European gas hubs.

The increase in the reverse flow of natural gas in the direction of Ukraine is expected due to the expansion of the use of the connecting pipeline built in 2014 and gas metering station in the building of the compressor station in Veľké Kapušany.

Currently, the existing gas transportation infrastructure allows Eustream to direct a natural gas flow of up to 14.6 billion cubic meters/ year through the Budince exit point in the direction of Ukraine. In the first half of 2020, according to LLC Gas TSO of Ukraine, 3.9 billion cubic meters of physical gas volumes were received from Slovakia.

Due to the possible increase in gas transmission in the direction of Ukraine, Eustream has completed all preparatory and engineering activities of the project. However, the deadline for the transition to the next stage and the adoption of the final investment decision remains uncertain, as there is currently no demand from market participants to increase traffic in the direction of Ukraine. This also explains Eustream’s lack of interest in moving to a single virtual pipeline connection point on the Ukrainian-Slovak border by connecting Budince and Veľké Kapušany connection points.

Modernization of Nuovo Pignone 23MW gas turbine equipment with DLE 1.5. The project is related to the amendment of the legislation of the Slovak Republic (Law No. 137/2010 on air, as amended, Decree of the Ministry of Environment SR No. 410/2012) on the basis of an amendment to the Directive of the European Parliament and the EU Council No. 2010/75/EÚ as of 24.11.2010 on industrial emissions, which regulates the limitation of emissions applied to equipment with a heat output of 50 MW or more from January 1, 2016.

From a technical point of view, the new turbine kit converts a gas turbine (which acts as a compressor drive) with an outdated SAC (Standard Annular Combustor) combustion system into a new DLE 1.5 (Dry Low Emissions) system with low industrial emissions. Completion of the project is scheduled for 2023.

Analyzing the situation on the European natural gas market, as well as projects on development of the potential of the transport network, Eustream forecasts the following 10-year capacity of entry / exit points of the Slovak GTS (Gwh/d):

At present, Slovakia continues to play a key role in ensuring the transit of Russian gas to Central and Western Europe. Due to the implementation of new projects, Eustream expects to be able to enter the Norwegian natural gas market (PL-SK + Baltic Pipe) within the next 2-3 years with a proposal to transport it in the southern direction in the interests of CEE and the Balkans. The Polish LNG terminal in Świnoujście and the Croatian LNG terminal on the island of Krk are an alternative source of transport capacity in this direction of the Slovak GTS.

The use of the Slovak GTS to transport Russian gas from Nord Stream 2 through the Austrian gas hub Baumgarten to Hungary and Italy, as well as surplus gas from Turkish Stream from Hungary (HUSK + RO-HU) to Austria and the Czech Republic, remains promising.

The reverse route of natural gas transportation to Ukraine is not left out either and Eustream, if necessary, is ready to increase gas transmission volumes.

Slovakia is interested in making the most of its transit capacity and diversifying its sources of revenue from natural gas transportation. To this end, it seeks to increase the degree of integration into regional European gas markets, while investing in the flexibility and reliability of its own GTS. In the medium term, having achieved a high level of interconnection of the national GTS with neighboring countries and natural gas supply lines, Slovakia can offer gas transportation services in all directions (north-southeast-west) through its territory, while diversifying its sources of origin.


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