Star Energy Joins Australian Bid to Store Italian Gas

An Australian company's bid to help increase Italy's underground storage capacity has won the backing of Star Energy Group plc, the second-largest onshore oil producer in the United Kingdom and a major operator and developer of underground gas storage facilities.

Star has joined with emerging Italian gas producer, Australia's Po Valley Energy Limited to bid for up to five new gas storage licenses in Italy. A decision on awarding the storage licenses one of Europe's most rapidly expanding energy growth sectors is expected to be made in the first quarter of next year, with tenders closing in September this year.

"The joint venture will combine Po Valley's experience in gas field development in northern Italy with Star Energy's specialist skills and operations in storing gas in the UK at Humbly Grove and 4 6 other projects in the UK using depleted oil and gas reservoirs," Po Valley's Chief Executive officer, Michael Masterman, said.

"The partnership is highly strategic as Star Energy is the largest independent storage operator and developer in the United Kingdom and has recently expanded into the Netherlands. Storage of gas in underground depleted reservoirs is a rapidly expanding business in Italy and in Europe, reflecting increasing dependence on imported gas which is usually delivered on a 'flat volume' basis.

"Large storage capacity is required to meet Italy's seasonal swings in gas consumption and spikes in usages. Po Valley's potential development of storage as a new cornerstone business is a natural complement to our emerging gas production capacity from early 2008."

Under the joint venture, Po Valley and Star will bid for up to five gas storage licenses recently put out to tender by the Italian Ministry. Bids close in September 2007, with the results expected to be known by the first quarter 2008.

"Star and Po Valley present a very strong combination and we have confidence about our potential bid outcome," Masterman said.


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