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UK's Ascent buoyed by Slovenian gas plant approval

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UK's Ascent buoyed by Slovenian gas plant approval

Highlights

License to enable producer to sell gas into Slovenian grid

Since 2017 all Petisovci gas sold to neighboring Croatia

Ascent points to gas as tool in low-carbon transition

London — UK-listed Ascent Resources has finally received approval to build a gas processing plant in Slovenia after years of delays, enabling it to sell gas from its flagship Petisovci gas project into the domestic market.

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Ascent -- which started exporting gas to Croatia from Petisovci in November after years of delays and bureaucratic obstacles -- has faced a number of environmental appeals against the construction of the small gas processing facility.

"The permit has been confirmed as fully valid [and] no further appeals against the permit are possible," Ascent said in a short statement.

Ascent has been particularly bullish over the prospects of the Petisovci project in the past, with estimates for gas-in-place of as much as 450 Bcf (13 Bcm)But the project has suffered a number of delays since initial drilling was completed in 2011, including appeals against Ascent's plans to build the gas processing plant in Slovenia.

"The permit [...] allows the installation of a small processing facility which would enable Slovenian gas to be sold into the Slovenian national grid system," the company said.

"As such the award of the permit marks an important step forward for our field development plan." The delays led Ascent late last year to abandon plans to sell the company, saying the unpredictability of the Slovenian permitting system had a "deeply negative impact on the perceived investment environment in the country from outside investors."

CROATIAN EXPORTS

Ascent began production from Petisovci in April 2017 after 10 years of exploration and development work.

Currently, virtually all production from the field is exported untreated to Croatia, while Slovenia remains 100% dependent on imports, mostly from Russia.

Ascent said that for Slovenia, having a domestic source of gas will help it move away from nuclear and coal-fired power generation.

"The proper development of the Petisovci gas field poses no significant environmental risk and will benefit the Slovenian environment as the country switches to cleaner gas from more polluting energy sources," Ascent CEO Colin Hutchinson said.

"The project is also important strategically for Slovenia as it can reduce its reliance on imported energy supplies," Hutchinson said.

Slovenia depends on imports for almost all its consumption of around 1 Bcm/year.

Croatia has a bigger gas market, with demand around 3 Bcm/year.

-- Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jonathan Fox, newsdesk@spglobal.com