The project involves an international offshore section of the pipeline, which will run from the Algerian coast to Southern Sardinia (near Cagliari) where it will link up with the Italian section. This will include an inland section across Sardinia to Olbia and another offshore section to Tuscany (near Piombino) where the new pipeline will interconnect with the national transportation network.
Overall, the pipeline will be roughly 900 kilometers long, approximately 600 kilometers of which will be offshore. It will be laid at a maximum depth of approximately 2,800 meters between Algeria and Sardinia. Its initial transportation capacity will be 8 billion cubic meters per year and it is planned to come onstream in 2012. Agreements signed with Sonatrach on November 15th, attended by Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the President of Algeria, and Romano Prodi, Italian Premier, Edison (the key Italian player in the project) and Enel have already assured the supply of 2 billion cubic meters of gas a year each once the pipeline is operational. Hera Trading has negotiated supply of a further one billion cubic meters. The other three billion cubic meters will be sold by Sonatrach, including through sales to other operators.
The signed memorandum of understanding relates to the Italian section of the pipeline: Galsi, owned by Sonatrach (38%), Edison (16%), Enel (13.5%), Wintershall (9%), Hera (10%), and Regione Sardegna (10%), will be responsible for the engineering work and for obtaining the relevant permits and main authorizations while Snam Rete Gas will be in charge of the construction and subsequent management of the transportation activities.
This project demonstrates the two companies' commitment to investing large amounts to develop one of the most important natural gas supply projects in Italy.
The memorandum is also strategically important to the opening up of the Italian and European gas markets, as it will allow the import and sale of natural gas along a new pipeline and enable new operators to enter the Italian market.
"The Galsi pipeline is of strategic interest to Italy and with a capacity of 8 billion cubic meters per year, will significantly increase the availability of gas for the country while at the same time ensuring the greater continuity of supplies", said Roberto Potý, chairman of Galsi and Executive Vice President Corporate Business Development of Edison. "The agreement signed today represents a fundamental step forward for the project's execution, which will also benefit from the definition of the relevant regulatory framework by Algeria and Italy in the next few weeks".
Mohamed Yousfi, CEO of Galsi said, "The agreement reached today by Snam Rete Gas and Galsi is proof of their tangible commitment to the construction of a new direct line between Algeria and Italy. It will strengthen the more than 30 year relationship between Sonatrach and the Italian companies, which shows their firm intention to meet the rising demand for natural gas in Europe".
Snam Rete Gas CEO Carlo Malacarne said, "Snam Rete Gas' involvement in this project demonstrates its proactive commitment to encouraging all new import projects as soon as the requisites for their effective implementation are in place".
Galsi is carrying out the detailed engineering part of the project and, specifically, the survey of the sea floor of the two offshore sections in order to confirm their route.
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