Gasunie has taken the decision to go ahead with the construction of a pipeline to the United Kingdom. The pipeline, known as the BBL, links Balgzand in the Netherlands and Bacton on the Norfolk coast and will have a total length of 235 kilometres. The project involves an investment of around 500 million euros and will be completed at the end of 2006.
The pipeline will have a diameter of 36 inches. The diameter is based on an open season, during which shippers could show their interest in the project. This way shippers had the possibility to reserve capacity in the BBL on a non-discriminatory basis. The most important users of the new pipeline will be the German companies Ruhrgas and Wingas as well as Gasunie Trade & Supply. A separate company will be set up for the BBL and Gasunie will be its majority shareholder. Through co-operation agreements Ruhrgas and Fluxys (Belgium) are invited to participate in the investment and their decision is expected shortly.
In order for the construction of the BBL to go ahead, it was important to obtain an exemption from a number of European rules relating to gas transport. An exemption was necessary to justify the investment in the BBL. Energy regulatory authorities in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands announced their intention to grant that exemption. The European Commission recently gave its opinion regarding the approach taken by the national regulators. This too enabled Gasunie to give its go ahead.
The BBL will require the building of a compressor station in the province of Noord-Holland, a short section of onshore pipeline and the crossing of the coastal sand dunes in the Netherlands (approximately 5 kilometres), 230 kilometres of offshore pipeline across the North Sea and landfall and receiving facilities in Bacton. In addition Gasunie is committed to make investments for its own account in the Dutch domestic network, which are necessary to ensure adequate access of gas supplies to the entry point of the BBL on the Dutch shoreline.