Slovakia’s Eastring suffers delays, the interconnector with Poland moves on.
Eustream, the Slovak gas transmission system operator, speaks rarely. On 8 November 2016, it announced that it applied for European grants to co-finance the construction of the Slovak-Polish interconnector and the feasibility study for the pipeline Eastring.
Both projects are part of the much-needed North-South corridor in Central and Eastern Europe. The region has long suffered from the one-way East-West oriented infrastructure making it dependent on one supplier. Vertical gas interconnections give access to new sources and, by consequence, to better prices, ultimately increasing energy security.
Yet, the specific projects do not always progress swiftly or, once built, are not used as planned.
Eastring was first presented at the Central European Energy Conference in December 2014.
It has since won political support in Bratislava and Brussels as a bidirectional pipeline connecting Central Europe and the Balkans, the former to potentially new resources and the latter to the gas hubs in Western Europe.
But it has already suffered delays. As the website Energia.sk correctly noted, Eastring’s initial commissioning was scheduled for 2018. Today, the goal is 2022 for the capacity of 20 BCM/year and 2026 for the scaling up to 40 BCM/year, Bulgartransgaz revealed to Energia.sk.
Eustream has already signed three memoranda bilateral with Bulgarian partners, but none with the Romanian ones. The project now must compete with other infrastructural projects, most recently with the revived Turk Stream.
The Slovak-Hungarian interconnector has already been launched (back in 2015), but it has a different problem.
It has repeatedly suffered the lack of use.
„This project will contribute to increasing the security of the gas supply in Hungary and Slovakia in particular, but also to the wider region. It will enable solidarity... while also contributing to the diversification of gas supply sources,“ reads a European Commission memo on the project from 2013. The EU funded the construction.
There is hope the pipeline would be used more once the Slovak-Polish interconnector is built.
That is actually a project that has not officially suffered delays as of yet.
The Slovak-Polish interconnector would give Slovakia access to the gas from the recently launched LNG terminal in Świnoujście, Poland. And vice-versa, it would allow the flow of gas from the terminal further south, to Hungary and the Balkans.
The commissioning of the common project by Eustream and Gaz-System is scheduled for 2019. “On time,” it reads in the summer review of the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) by the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).
The report also concludes that Slovakia hosts only two gas PCIs, whereas it may be impacted by further 11. In the EU, it is highest disproportion. Bratislava’s interest in building working interconnections cannot be more obvious.