New Italian LNG terminal to receive first gas by end-April
The first liquefied natural gas cargo ship is expected to arrive next month in the Italian port of Piombino where a new LNG terminal was moored overnight, an executive of the country’s gas grid operator Snam SRG.MI said.
The vessel, bought by Italy’s gas grid operator Snam SRG.MI last summer, is expected to become operational in mid-May despite local opposition.
The acquisition of the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), dubbed Golar Tundra, is part of the Italian government’s strategy to replace Russian gas with alternative supplies.
Rome, which was heavily dependent on Russian gas prior to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, aims to end all reliance on Russian gas imports by the end of this year.
Elio Ruggeri, head of Snam’s FSRU unit, said at a news conference in the Tuscan port that the first gas that arrives in April will only be used to test the terminal. After that, a short-term schedule of cargoes will be mapped out until October.
Eugenio Giani, special commissioner for the project, said at the same event there was no risk it could be halted by legal complaints.
“The ship will be in operation (before July) and will keep going,” Giani said when asked if a potential negative ruling against the terminal could block it.
Piombino’s local administration and grass-roots associations have criticised the setting up of the new terminal, citing safety concerns for the local population and maritime traffic.
They have filed a legal challenge against the infrastructure, but a decision by Lazio administrative court over the complaint has been postponed to July 5.
The Golar Tundra will increase Italy’s LNG import capacity by 5 billion cubic metres (bcm) and will remain in Piombino for three years before moving to a different location to be chosen by Snam within 100 days.
With additional LNG capacity, Rome will be able to import gas from countries including Algeria, Egypt, Congo and the United States, which last year pledged to sell LNG to several Italian energy groups.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Silvia Ognibene; Writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Gavin Jones and Richard Chang)