The news that Russia's Gazprom is expanding storage terminals across Europe in anticipation of increased supplies could be good news for Europe's chemical industry, which relies heavily on natural gas for power generation.
Gazprom is almost doubling its underground storage capacities for gas by 2015 to nearly 4.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) and by next year to 6.5 bcm, according to an article in the Asia Times Online.
The facilities are being expanded in anticipation of the successful startup of new pipelines
known as South Stream and North Stream.
"The increased storage facilities in Austria will cater to the markets in Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany and Italy. A new storage, Katrina, which Gazprom is building as a joint venture with VNG in Germany, will support gas exports to Western European hubs. Gazprom built another joint venture storage facility with Serbia that will support gas exports to Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Hungary. Feasibility studies are being conducted on similar joint storage projects in the Czech Republic, France, Romania, Belgium, Britain, Slovakia, Turkey and Greece.
"With this, the "gas map" of Europe, which was largely drawn in the Soviet era, is poised to undergo a phenomenal change. The great consolidation of Russia's status as the pre-eminent energy supplier - Russia today supplies over 41% of Europe's gas needs - is certain to transform east-west relations in the medium and long term and will figure as a key factor in the United States' trans-Atlanticism."
Gazprom will also be delighted at the news that the Nabucco pipeline has been delayed from 2014 to 2017. "Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of Nabucco Gas Pipeline International, revealed the construction work stands postponed by one year at least to 2013. He left things delightfully vague, saying gas would flow through the pipeline "as soon as there are firm indications that gas supply commitments are in place".
"Nabucco was conceived to funnel gas 3,900 kilometers from Turkey to Austria and was designed to carry 31 bcm of natural gas a year from the Middle East and the Caspian region to markets in Europe. Bypassing Russia, the pipeline would run through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to a hub just outside Vienna for onward distribution all across the European Union countries. The Nabucco consortium consists of the energy companies RWE of Germany; OMV of Austria; MOL of Hungary; Botas of Turkey; Bulgaria Energy Holding of Bulgaria; and Transgaz of Romania.
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