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Gas Infrastructure Operators welcome the legal proposal on energy infrastructure guidelines from the European Commission but call for policy makers not to stop there


19 Oct 2011



Following the European Commission’s release of a proposal for an energy infrastructure regulation today, gas infrastructure operators welcomed the planned piece of legislation which focuses on the development of the appropriate infrastructure for the evolving energy world. “A low carbon economy can only happen, and indeed can be expedited, with gas playing a fundamental role. An efficient continent-wide gas infrastructure delivers energy quietly and invisibly to and across Europe”, said Jean-Claude Depail, GIE President, today.

“The initiative to tackle the burden that long lasting permitting procedures impose on the development of infrastructure projects is indeed an important issue,” according to Jean-Claude Depail. But it is also very important that efforts do not end at projects with priority status. When developing big import pipelines, LNG terminals or new storage facilities, the network to accommodate the gas has to be in place to avoid congestion. An improved permit granting process should become a best practice for all European projects and throughout all Member States and not only for those projects of declared common European interest.

It has to be ensured that the requirements in the Commission proposal lead to the building of the right infrastructure. A size threshold for projects to get the label of Project of Common Interest does not always help, says the GIE President as “Small but beautiful does exist”. The same is true for indicators to measure cross-border impact: “With a more and more integrated market it is hard to tell if a project helps one, two or more Member States as gas flows are likely to evolve in the long run.”

“Transmission, storage and LNG terminals contribute jointly to the European objectives of increased competition and security of supply”, the GIE President underlined. GIE is convinced that the regional groups proposed by the Commission have to be open for a flexible selection process, involving all stakeholders and the specificities and strategic aims of each region.

GIE acknowledges the Ten Year Network Development Plan developed by ENTSOG – the European Network for Gas Transmission System Operator under the Third Package – as a very good starting point to identify infrastructure needs. This has to be done in cooperation and in accordance with relevant stakeholders, and GIE is ready to get involved. “And then let market forces work, when building infrastructure. Policy interventions should happen only when and where absolutely necessary”, representatives from gas infrastructure operators broadly agreed.

Financing of infrastructure remains the biggest issue in the current challenging regulatory and economic environment. “Investors will only invest if they can be sure that policy makers see a strong role for gas in the future and that the regulatory frameworks stays stable”, said Jean-Claude Depail. Policy makers have to recognize the crucial role gas will play in a sustainable energy mix throughout all of their policy instruments. “If, for example, the future Energy Roadmap does not recognize the important role of gas, then the Infrastructure Package may not bring the desired effects. Investors will only invest in gas infrastructure, when they can be convinced that this infrastructure will still be filled with gas in 2050 and the years to come.”

Note to editors: Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) is the association representing gas transmission companies, storage system operators and LNG terminal operators in Europe. GIE has currently 70 members in 25 European countries.

Press Contact:

Astrid Dolak, T +32 2 209 05 08, M +32 496 126 951, E-mail:

GIE - Gas Infrastructure Europe, avenue de Cortenbergh 100, B-1000, Brussels,