London — Greece's Gastrade, the developer of a planned floating LNG import facility at Alexandroupolis in northern Greece, said Thursday it had secured 2.6 Bcm a year of capacity bookings following a binding market test process that ended Tuesday.
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Capacity was booked for periods up to 15 years and parties reserving capacity included both Greek and international gas companies, as well as end-users, Gastrade said.
The company described the process as having been "successfully" concluded, although the booked capacity is less than 50% of the terminal's design capacity of 5.5 Bcm/year.
The deadline for bids was extended three times, and the final result was also well below the 12.2 Bcm/year that had been flagged by interested parties in a non-binding phase.
The relative lack of interest in the final, binding phase was downplayed, however, by Gastrade managing director Konstantinos Spyropoulos.
"This very satisfactory result of the binding phase of the market test for the Alexandroupolis project and the participation of key gas market players in Greece and Southeast Europe constitute a critical step toward the materialization of the project," Spyropoulos said.
He added that the project would lead to energy diversification and enhanced security of supply in Greece, the Balkans and the wider southeast European area.
Gastrade did not name the capacity bookers, but Bulgaria's government said its state-owned gas importer Bulgargaz would reserve 0.5 Bcm/year of capacity.
Gastrade also said the booked capacity compared favorably to "similar cases of new gas projects recently", without naming any projects.
However, in December 2018, the planned 2.6 Bcm/year LNG import terminal at Krk in Croatia saw binding offers for just 0.52 Bcm/year of gas as well as conditional, non-binding offers for a total of 0.3 Bcm/year.
Regional gas hub
Greece already has one operating LNG import terminal at Revithoussa, which started operations in 2000 and expanded its capacity in 2018, but the government is supporting a second plant as part of efforts to make Greece into a regional gas hub.
The LNG facility is designed to work in tandem with the planned Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, which is to bring gas from Azerbaijan to southeastern Europe via the TANAP/TAP gas pipeline system from 2021.
The floating storage and regasification unit will be connected to the Greek gas transmission system through a 28-km pipeline that will allow the transportation of regasified LNG to the markets of Greece and the wider region, in particular Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Hungary and Ukraine.
It will have a nominal regasification and send-out capacity of 5.5 Bcm/year and a peak technical regasification and send-out capacity of 22.8 million cu m/d.
The tender process for the construction of the project is also underway, with a commercial start-up date planned for Q3 2022.
Bulgaria's state-owned gas grid operator Bulgartransgaz has a 20% stake in Alexandroupolis LNG as part of Sofia's strategy of diversifying its gas import sources and routes.
LNG shipper Gaslog also has a 20% stake, while Romania's Romgaz is also eyeing a 20% stake.
Should the Romgaz stake be finalized, it would leave the final 20% owned by Gastrade founding shareholder Elmina Copelouzou.