The EU has agreed to help fund a feasibility study on the Eastring pipeline project, which would link Slovakia to the Balkan markets, Slovak transmission system operator Eustream announced on May 26.
The project has been chasing EU support since it was first proposed in late 2014. Eustream, which is 51% owned by Bratislava but managed by Czech-based EPH, has pushed the pipeline’s potential to raise the bloc’s energy security by linking Balkan networks - which are highly exposed to any reduction in Russian supplies via Ukraine - to Western European hubs. However, overtures have also been made to Moscow suggesting the project could help distribute its exports.
Eustream officials told bne IntelliNews in 2015 that "any mention of Ukraine virtually guarantees support in Brussels". Bratislava risks losing a reported €800mn per year should Russia stop sending gas exports to the EU through Ukraine.
The feasibility study will be funded under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), Eustream reports, with the sum of up to €1mn, or 50% of the eligible costs. An agreement entered into force on May 12.
European CEF coordination committee, composed of representatives of the 28 Member States, agreed to fund the feasibility study for the Eastring pipeline under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) on 17 February 2017. Grant award and the Agreement with INEA is an important milestone for the planned pipeline with the status of The Project of Common Interest for the EU (PCI list).
“Eastring pipeline will serve as an interconnection between Western European liquid hubs and the Balkan region … an area with the potential to be a highly liquid region offering new natural gas sources from the Caspian region/eastern Mediterranean/Middle East region,” the Eustream statement reads.
The feasibility study will define the technical details of the project, including the possible routing options, it adds. Ukraine recently said Eastring will now use part of its network. Eustream recently agreed with Italian peer Snam to investigate involvement in the operation and upgrade of Ukraine’s network.
The grant application was submitted with support from TSOs from Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, Eustream also noted.
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