Acasă » Oil&Gas » Ion Sterian, Transgaz: 3.2 billion euros investment to come by 2031

Ion Sterian, Transgaz: 3.2 billion euros investment to come by 2031

12 December 2022
Bogdan Tudorache

Through the investments made by Transgaz, Romania contributed actively and responsibly to the consolidation of European and regional energy security, claims the general manager of SNTGN, Ion Sterian. For the period 2022-2031, the company has undertaken an ambitious strategic investment plan estimated at 3.2 billion euros, told us Ion Sterian, in an exclusive interview for Energynomics.


Dear Mr. Ion Sterian, let’s start with the nearest future – are we ready to make it through winter?

Securing Romania’s natural gas supply in the most complicated winter of the last 30 years has been a constant concern of ours. It must be said from the outset that the underground storage of natural gas plays a major role in ensuring the security of natural gas supply, facilitating the balance of consumption – domestic production – import of natural gas, by covering consumption peaks caused mainly by variations of temperature, as well as maintaining the optimal operation characteristics of the national natural gas transport system. Romania has 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas in storage.

Romania has an advantage over most EU states, which do not have their own production and rely on 80%-90% imported gas. Romania’s production reached 25 million cubic meters per day, thanks to the stabilization of production at OMV Petrom and the increase in production at Romgaz. By putting the Ana and Doina fields into production by Black Sea Oil and Gas, 3 million cubic meters per day are coming. BSOG has requested to increase production by another million cubic meters per day to reach 4 million cubic meters per day.

Also, regarding the technical preparations of the SNT for its operation in safe and secure conditions in the supply of natural gas, at optimal parameters, we note that they have been completed and we are ready to go through the 2022-2023 cold season well.


How are we doing in terms of interconnection?

An important evolution in the regional infrastructure is the operationalization of the Bulgaria-Greece interconnector, the last component of the Vertical Corridor, which contributes significantly to the diversification of natural gas supply sources and to ensuring the energy security of the entire Balkan region.

The Greece-Bulgaria interconnector, a component of the Vertical Corridor, will connect the Southern Corridor, respectively Trans Adriatic Pipeline and BRUA, through Giurgiu – Ruse, taking gas from the Caspian Sea area, Azerbaijan and the Shah Deniz 2 field, as well as from LNG terminals in northern Greece. Through the Vertical Corridor, gas sources will be diversified, and Romania, Bulgaria and the other countries in the Balkans and in Central and Eastern Europe will be able to have access to other gas sources than the traditional ones. In the first stage, the pipeline will have a capacity of 3 billion cubic meters/year, and in the second stage, after the construction of a compression station in Komotini, it will have a capacity of 5 billion cubic meters/year.

The Greece-Bulgaria interconnector, by connecting to the Trans-Balkan Corridor, can take natural gas from the Caspian Sea area and Azerbaijan, ensuring more security in the supply of natural gas both for Romania and for the entire region.

Taking into account the perspective of materializing new projects aimed at diversifying natural gas transport routes from the Caspian Sea Region towards Central Europe, as well as new sources of natural gas in the off-shore perimeters of the Black Sea, TRANSGAZ built and put into operation the gas pipeline BRUA phase 1, a new natural gas transport corridor to ensure the utilization of natural gas volumes related to these sources on the Romanian and European market and the possibility of permanent bidirectional physical flow on the interconnections with Bulgaria and Hungary.

The BRUA gas pipeline phase 1 currently has the entire transport capacity reserved on the direction to Hungary, through the interconnection point at Csanádpalota (Hungary) and transits natural gas entering Romania from Bulgaria.


What are the alternative sources of natural gas we can rely on in the future?

Regarding the diversification of natural gas supply sources, Transgaz has started a series of strategic actions. Thus, at the beginning of October, our company, together with Bulgartransgaz, FGSZ and Eustream announced the opportunity of joint actions regarding the expansion of cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan by transporting additional quantities of natural gas through the existing networks. As natural gas transport operators, we will continue to work according to the framework established by the EU-Azerbaijan strategic cooperation agreement signed on July 18, 2022. Based on the cooperation between the companies and with the support of EU funds, we are confident that such a project would provide a safe alternative route for the supply of natural gas in sufficiently large volumes. I emphasized on that occasion, that in a short time and with minimal improvements to the existing infrastructure, this project could transport in stage 1 up to 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year and in stage 2, after the completion by Bulgartransgaz of the 63 km of pipeline, up to 14 billion cubic meters/year, from Turkey and Greece to Eastern, Central and Western Europe, through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

This will allow European consumers to receive more quantities of natural gas through the pipelines of the Southern Gas Corridor. Such a project, implemented in the shortest possible time and at minimal costs, could significantly contribute to ensuring liquidity on the European gas market. The initiative also contributes to the implementation of the objectives and priorities set out in the Commission’s REPOWER EU plan.


For Transgaz, what are the most important achievements this year?

Transgaz is engaged in the development of several strategic investment projects, consisting in the construction of gas pipelines for the transport of natural gas, investments that confirm the regional scope of the company and its role as the first Romanian multinational with majority state capital: the natural gas transport pipeline Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria (BRUA) – phase II, the pipeline for taking over natural gas from the Black Sea coast, the pipeline for the interconnection of the natural gas transmission system with the similar natural gas transmission system in Serbia, the development/modernization of the transmission system in the North-West area, increasing the natural gas transport capacity of the Romania-Bulgaria interconnection in the Giurgiu-Ruse direction, etc.

At the same time, Transgaz actively contributes to maintaining Romania’s energy security through the investments it has carried out and is carrying out. These investments allowed the increase in the level of interconnection of the SNT with similar systems in neighboring countries, allowed the development of the natural gas transport network, and, just as importantly, allowed the development of strategic regional projects, such as the Ungheni-Chisinau gas pipeline, the development, strengthening and diversifying national and international collaboration and cooperation relationships.

The main investment objectives completed this year are: developments of the SNT in the North-Eastern area of ​​Romania in order to improve the supply of natural gas in the area as well as to ensure transport capacities to/from the Republic of Moldova, developments of the SNT in order to take over natural gas on the shores of the Black Sea, safety works for the DN 500 Hațeg – Paroșeni transport pipeline, in the area of ​​Baru Mare, the DN 300 Mintia – Brad natural gas transport pipeline, the DN 500 Plătarești-Bălăceanca natural gas transport pipeline, natural gas pipe DN 250 Vernești-Mărăcineni, natural gas transport pipeline Pojorâta – Vatra Dornei – last section of the natural gas transport pipeline DN 300/DN 250 Frasin-Câmpulung Moldovenesc – Vatra Dornei.


How can we get a market ready to take on hydrogen faster?

The investment in hydrogen represents a growth engine that will prove essential in the context of the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The European Commission’s recovery plan highlights the need to unlock investment in key clean technologies and value chains to promote sustainable growth and job creation. It emphasizes that clean hydrogen is one of the key areas to be addressed in the context of the energy transition and mentions a number of possible ways to support it.

The use of hydrogen and gases can facilitate the transition to deep decarbonization, due to the ability of the gas grid to integrate different architectures and size scales, as well as hydrogen mixtures in the grid.

Transgaz, as the operator of the National Natural Gas Transport System (SNT), is concerned with the potential of integrating hydrogen from renewable sources and with low carbon emissions into the natural gas transport system, in order to align with the provisions of the European directives in force, to those of the European Green Deal.

The general objectives for the period 2023-2025 are the development of the research activity regarding the possibility of accepting the hydrogen mix in the SNT and ways of introducing it into the SNT and the implementation of a strategy to modernize and adapt the existing natural gas transport infrastructure for the use of hydrogen and other green gases, in order to decarbonize.

In this respect, we propose in the next period to implement a pilot project for the use of the mixture of natural gas with hydrogen and to study the influences on materials, measurement systems and combustion equipment. The study aims to determine the implications that the transport of the mixture of methane and hydrogen has on the National Transport System. The objective of the project is to evaluate the effect of the gas mixture on the behavior, under normal operating conditions, of the main equipment and technical solutions used within the SNT. At the same time, the pilot plant can determine the impact of the gas mixture with H2 on a gas distribution network to the final consumer, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by burning the natural gas mixture with hydrogen.

I will also mention the Memorandum of Understanding signed this year, on April 7, in Budapest, on the sidelines of the Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) Conference between Transgaz and the similar companies in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – FGSZ Ltd, GAZ- SYSTEM S.A. and Eustream a.s. This document has as its goal the implementation of an applied research project aimed at analyzing transportation activities and storage of hydrogen, regardless of its origin (natural gas, variable RES or others), including areas of mixing or separation of the mixture.



This interview first appeared in the printed edition of Energynomics Magazine, issued in December 2022.

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Autor: Bogdan Tudorache

Active in the economic and business press for the past 26 years, Bogdan graduated Law and then attended intensive courses in Economics and Business English. He went up to the position of editor-in-chief since 2006 and has provided management and editorial policy for numerous economic publications dedicated especially to the community of foreign investors in Romania. From 2003 to 2013 he was active mainly in the financial-banking sector. He started freelancing for Energynomics in 2013, notable for his advanced knowledge of markets, business communities and a mature editorial style, both in Romanian and English.

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