Tauern Gas Pipeline moves forward to environmental impact assessment

The feasibility study for the Tauern Gas Pipeline (TGL) project is now nearing completion. It has been shown that it will be technically feasible to construct the TGL project across the Alps. Almost 90 percent of the easements and servitudes required have already been secured by mutual agreement with the landowners concerned.

The project partners have now decided to continue the TGL project, focussing on the environmental impact assessment. The exemption application under Section 20a of the Austrian Gas Act (Gaswirtschaftsgesetz) (Section 22 Directive 2003/55/EC) submitted to the Austrian regulatory authority, the Energie-Control Kommission, in June last year has now been temporarily withdrawn. It is necessary to wait until the 3rd EU Energy Package which has now come into force has been implemented in Austrian law as a statutory basis for the exemption decision. 

The Tauern Gas Pipeline (TGL) project is to connect Austria, in the North, with the German natural gas market and, in the South, with the Mediterranean region and natural gas markets in Italy and South-East Europe.

The feasibility study supported by the EU for the TGL project, which has been recognized as part of the Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E), is to be completed in the near future. It has been shown that it will be technically feasible to construct the TGL project along the planned route across the Austrian Alps.

The project partners have now decided to conduct the environmental impact assessment procedure. "In cooperation with environmental experts from 34 disciplines, the environmental compatibility declaration for the TGL project is now being prepared. It is planned to submit the declaration to the authorities for the environmental impact assessment at the end of this year," Thomas Kettl, Managing Director of Tauerngasleitung GmbH, explains. Work on the development of connections to the Tauern Gas Pipeline project in Bavaria and Italy also continues. 

In the course of the feasibility study, all the landowners and communities affected received comprehensive information on the TGL project and the planned route on several occasions. Option contracts for about 90 percent of the easements and servitudes required for the TGL route in Upper Austria, Salzburg and Carinthia have now been concluded by mutual agreement with the landowners concerned. A further 5 to 6 percent of the TGL route is located on land which is in public ownership. Tauerngasleitung GmbH expects that it will be possible to conclude the necessary permit contracts with the authorities and public bodies affected. "We are very satisfied with the results obtained to date in negotiations for easements and servitudes," says Thomas Kettl, adding: "As regards the remaining easement and servitude options in the private sector, we still aim to reach agreement with the landowners through personal dialogue on the basis of possible route optimization, where this is technically feasible and economically viable, before filing for the environmental impact assessment." 

The "TGL Open Season 2009" for the allocation of long-term transportation capacities on the Tauern Gas Pipeline was launched in June last year. The information and commitment phases of the three-stage procedure have been completed. Ten participants from Italy, Germany, France and Austria submitted binding requests for transportation capacities in the northerly and southerly directions for a duration of 25 years. Thomas Kettl, Managing Director of Tauerngasleitung GmbH, is optimistic about the result: "From TGL's point of view it is pleasing that, even at a time of financial and economic crisis, initial capacity requests for a period of 25 years have been received. The TGL Open Season 2009 is being terminated; another capacity allocation procedure is planned at a later date." 

To ensure secure long-term conditions for the project partners and transportation customers, it is necessary to wait until the 3rd EU Energy Package which has now come into force has been implemented in Austrian law as a statutory basis for the exemption decision. Tauerngasleitung GmbH has therefore temporarily withdrawn the exemption application submitted to the Energie-Control Kommission under Section 20a of the Austrian Gas Act (Gaswirtschaftsgesetz) (Section 22 Directive 2003/55/EC). Clarifications are required, especially concerning the provisions relating to ownership unbundling and the introduction of an entry/exit tariff system for natural gas transmission pipelines. 

The Tauern Gas Pipeline project will lead to a long-term improvement in supply security in Austria and Europe and promote more competition thanks to greater diversification of gas purchasing sources.



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