July 20, 2020 [ICIS] – The Italian LNG Panigaglia terminal will double in storage capacity by the end of 2021, Snam Rete Gas – who owns the terminal’s operator GNL Italia – said on Tuesday.
The works will bring back online an existing 50,000 cubic metre (cbm) tank, which was taken offline five years ago. Total storage capacity at the terminal once works are completed will then be around 100,000cbm.
Italy has other two LNG terminals, the OLT Toscana with 137,500cbm of storage capacity and the Adriatic terminal with 250,000cbm of storage capacity.
Regasification capacity at the Panigaglia terminal will remain the same at 2.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) for the time being. This is the smallest one in the country compared with the 2.8mtpa capacity of OLT Toscana and 6mtpa at Adriatic.
The cost of the refurbishment should be around €20m, the spokesman said.
The project, once completed, will halve cargoes’ time to unload and therefore reduce renting ships’ costs, paving the way for longer-term and intraday products to provide more flexibility to the market.
Works will also enable truckloading and small scale services going forward and make the terminal more competitive in the south of Europe, especially against competitor ports in Marseille and Barcelona.
The terminal’s operator already said in a conference in September 2019 it was considering working towards the implementation of small scale services by the end of 2021 beginning of 2022.
Small-scale services are now more feasible, following the introduction of the virtual pipeline concept in the latest government’s Legislative Simplification Decree draft. This could mean barges from Panigaglia could quickly reach Sardinia’s terminals via sea as the island does not have yet a gas pipeline connecting it to the mainland.
This will provide cleaner fuel to Sardinia than the current primary fuel, coal, and comply with Italian energy national strategy to 2030, which imposes the coal phase out by 2025.
At the moment the terminal only receives small cargoes from Algeria under an existing contract with Sonatrach due to the low level of the sea around its location.
The operator is also considering a potential extension of the terminal’s pier in the open sea to allow larger vessels to dock. The current investment does not include this possibility.
LNG GROWING SHARE
The increasing role of LNG in the Italian gas market was a decisive factor prompting Snam to invest in the refurbishment of the Panigaglia terminal.
Sendout from the terminal during the first 14 days of July totalled 144.096 million cubic metres, a 125% increase year on year. Overall LNG sendout for the period accounted for 25% of overall Italian imports. In 2019 during the same timeframe total LNG sendout accounted for 18% of total imports.
This was despite the cancellation of US LNG cargoes over the past weeks to balance the current gas glut in Europe.
According to LNG Edge, Italy received record-high LNG volume in June. A favourable spread between the PSV front-month contract and ICIS spot DES Italy LNG price suggest Italy will likely remain an attractive hub for LNG imports in Europe going forward.
The increasing number of market players interested in bringing spot LNG cargoes to Panigaglia over the past few months, SNAM spokesman said, was another reason which prompted Snam to increase investment in the terminal.
Adding to this, Italian regulator recently introduced new mechanisms to support the growing role of LNG in the domestic gas market, such as for the Adriatic terminal to allow Q-Flex vessels to dock at its pier and for the OLT Toscana terminal third-party access to its capacity.
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