London — Greece's Gastrade -- the developer of the planned floating LNG import facility at Alexandroupolis in northern Greece -- is holding talks with more parties interested in participating in the project, a company spokesman said Sept. 17.
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This week, Greece hosted a delegation from the government of North Macedonia, with the LNG project among the subjects of discussion with Gastrade.
Gastrade is also in talks with Greek gas grid operator DESFA about it buying a 20% stake in the project company.
"We are trying to optimize the shareholder structure to achieve maximum added value to the project," the Gastrade spokesman said.
Greece's state-controlled gas importer DEPA has a 20% stake in Gastrade, Bulgaria's state-owned gas grid operator Bulgartransgaz also has a 20% stake as does LNG shipper Gaslog, leaving Gastrade founding shareholder Elmina Copelouzou with the remaining 40% at present.
Gastrade plans to take a final investment decision on the 5.5 Bcm/year FSRU project before the end of the year. "We believe FID is still possible within 2020," the spokesman said.
Startup of the plant -- which secured 2.6 Bcm/year in capacity bookings following a binding market test in March -- is expected in early 2023.
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.
Capacity has been booked for periods of up to 15 years and parties reserving capacity included both Greek and international gas companies, as well as end-users.
North Macedonia talks
Gastrade said talks took place this week with the North Macedonian delegation "on various energy issues including their interest to participate in the Alexandroupolis LNG project."
North Macedonia has traditionally been dependent on Russian gas supplies, with Gazprom selling 0.3 Bcm to the country in 2019.
Since the start of 2020, all Russian gas to North Macedonia is supplied through the TurkStream pipeline via Turkey and Bulgaria.
It crosses the border from Bulgaria into North Macedonia at the Zidilovo entry point.
However, in future, landed LNG at Alexandroupolis could find its way into North Macedonia via Bulgaria.
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, but which can also send regasified LNG northward into Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, Greek grid operator DESFA has also expressed an interest in joining the project. "We can also confirm that we are in talks with DESFA for the sale of 20% in the project company," the Gastrade spokesman said.
DESFA is 66% owned by Senfluga -- a consortium of Italy's Snam, Spain's Enagas, Belgium's Fluxys and the Copelouzos group's Damco -- and 34% owned by the Greek state.
The FSRU, which will be connected to the Greek gas transmission system through a 28 km pipeline, 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.