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Slovenia signs up to energy infrastructure plan for Central Eastern Europe - International Law Office

International Law Office

Energy & Natural Resources - Slovenia

Slovenia signs up to energy infrastructure plan for Central Eastern Europe

February 06 2012

Introduction
Action plan
Comment


Introduction

On November 23 2011 representatives of Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the European Commission signed in Brussels the Memorandum of Understanding on North-South Interconnections in Central Eastern Europe, expressing their joint determination to promote and further develop electricity, gas and oil infrastructure in the Central Eastern Europe region at a ministerial level.

The signing of the memorandum of understanding was based on the Energy Infrastructure Package, which was confirmed by the European Commission on November 17 2010 and which determined the priorities for the achievement of energy objectives in the European Union by 2020.

Aiming to promote the implementation of energy infrastructure projects, the High-Level Group for North-South Interconnections was established, consisting of representatives of six member states in Central Eastern Europe, plus Croatia, which was invited to join the group as an observer. After the mid-review carried out in June 2011, Slovenia, Austria and Germany were invited to join the group. The group prepared the Action Plan for North-South Energy Interconnections in Central Eastern Europe, identifying the regional priority tasks and actions to be carried out. The action plan accompanies the memorandum of understanding, which refers to it several times.

Action plan

Infrastructure projects
The action plan includes a list of specific infrastructure projects in the region, mostly intended for connections between the north and the south, but also including certain projects aimed at connecting the east and the west. The projects are joined in clusters, focusing on the solution of a specific interconnection problem. Three such projects in the Slovenian electricity field include:

  • a double circuit 400 kilovolt (kV) overhead power line between Slovenia and Hungary, from Cirkovce to Pince, which offers a new interconnection line between Hungary and Croatia and is expected to be constructed by 2016;
  • a double circuit 400kV internal overhead power line between Beričevo and Krško (expected to be constructed by 2015), whose construction is intended to achieve:
    • an increased level of safety;
    • more reliable operation;
    • reduction of losses; and
    • an increased transmission capacity between eastern and western areas of Slovenia; and
  • the upgrade of an internal 200kV network between Cirkovce and Divača to a voltage level of 400kV (expected to be constructed by 2020), which is intended to:
    • achieve an increased level of security of energy supply and an increased transmission capacity between eastern and western areas of Slovenia; and
    • facilitate the integration of onshore and offshore wind and market integration in central and southeast Europe.

In addition, projects of regional importance for the north-south gas route include two gas interconnectors connecting Slovenia with Hungary and Croatia. The interconnection between Slovenia and Hungary is planned to be a regional entry point for alternative gas supplies into Hungary from liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the Adria region and a possible underground storage capacity in Hungary for Slovenia. The pipeline between Kalce and Jelšane/Lisac will connect the planned Adria LNG terminal (located on the island of Krk in Croatia) with the Hungary-Croatia interconnector, and will allow gas transport towards Slovenia and on to Italy, Austria and Hungary via existing transmission systems.

Obstacles and difficulties
The action plan also indentifies the usual obstacles and difficulties in relation to the physical positioning of infrastructure projects, which should be resolved by member states by 2013. These include:

  • identification of land owners;
  • negotiations with land owners;
  • procedures for payments and expropriation;
  • taxation of land under power lines;
  • the need to obtain consent for power lines from all concerned parties;
  • inadequate coordination between competent authorities when dealing with cross-border projects;
  • the need to obtain additional permits in case of reconstruction;
  • public queries due to a lack of publicity at a local level; and
  • insufficient protection of planned and existing corridors.

Due to identified problems, the construction of related infrastructure projects is practically at a standstill and may require several years for completion.

Comment

All of the above-mentioned difficulties and problems have been identified in Slovenia. Their resolution will require the cooperation of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, as the ministry responsible for the adoption of necessary legislation and procedures for the physical positioning of infrastructure. However, it is not yet known what measures must be adopted to secure the achievement of the objectives determined in the memorandum of understanding.

For further information on this topic please contact Helena Vranič or Tjaša Lahovnik at Odvetniki Šelih & partnerji op, doo by telephone (+386 1 300 7650), fax (+386 1 433 7098) or email (helena.vranic@selih.si or tjasa.lahovnik@selih.si).


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