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Gasification in Macedonia has stagnated for more than a decade. During that time the country was continuously referred to as the country through which one of the larger gas pipelines coming from the east or the southeast should have passed, such as “South Stream”, “North Stream”, “Turkish Stream”, “Nabuko” and rarely anyone, who is not energy expert, could have understood all those combinations and “possibilities” for supply of the country with natural gas. Now the supply has been defined and the construction of the primary network is going without interruption.
The director of National Energy Resources (NER), Bajram Redzepi, says that these gas pipelines, in reality were never planned to pass through Macedonia. The supply with gas in Macedonia at the moment will be going through other gas pipelines, other projects i.e. TAP and TANAP.
At the moment we are depending only on the Russian gas. Can we say that after the completion of the primary gas network that Macedonia's "gas" future will be defined and secure, after all the routes that were discussed, finally where will Macedonia supply gas from?
-TANAP connects with the South-Caucasus gas pipeline at the Turkish-Georgian border, using the sources of Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan. TAP connects with TANAP at the Greek-Turkish border. With the construction of our interconnection gas pipeline with the Greek transmission operator – DESFA, we could supply ourselves from TAP and from the Greek LNG terminals as well and all other sources of supply of DESFA, but also through the existing interconnector with Bulgaria.
At what price we will buy gas?
-The price of our supply will certainly depend on the price at the world stock market, but the diversification of our sources of supply will certainly have greater impact in order to get much cheaper prices of the current ones. What is the financial structure of the primary network?
-The construction of the transmission network will be in development in the next 10 years. Currently, the section from Klechovce to Negotino has been completely built in length of 92 km and the section Skopje-Tetovo-Gostivar in length of 88 km. The funding is with credit from Deutsche Bank and Erste Bank and one part with the Russian clearing debt. The next sections will be built with credits from European investment institutions and our own funds.
From strategic point of view, what place will Macedonia take in the Balkan system, important or marginal one?
-The construction of the gas interconnection with the Republic of Greece, except economic has also great geopolitical significance for the country and definitely brings us back as regional factor, since our transmission system will be used for supply of the Western Balkan with the gas that will go through TAP and that will certainly have a huge effect on our prices.
Will we be able, after completion of the construction, to ensure that the supply will be continuous and that no one will be able to condition us with energy restrictions?
-Definitely yes, but we have to be prepared to build storages, because it is very important to ensure smooth flow of gas throughout the year through our interconnection lines.
The Croatian expert on energy systems and renewable sources, Dr. Neven Duic, who has been staying in Skopje these days, said that gasification is an outdated solution that developed countries are abandoning it and moving towards renewable energy sources. Have we made a mistake in our commitment to gasification and why energy efficiency projects are not growing at a faster pace?
-I disagree with that conclusion, since in many more developed countries, gas is planned to be one of the dominant fuels in the next 30-40 years and 100 billion euros are invested in the construction of gas infrastructure across Europe, especially if we look at the growth of energy consumption and the need for balance. In our country it is almost impossible to plan rapid transformation, looking at consumer purchasing power and the forecasts of the movement of electricity prices.
How can a good price be achieved for all end users?
-With good and sustainable strategy and energy policy. This means: rapid construction of the distribution network throughout the country, construction of interconnection line with Greece, construction of at least two gas power plants and gas storage, construction of interconnector with Kosovo, subsidization of internal domestic installations, etc. This will contribute to the growth of consumption, with final effect, lower prices to end consumers.
Who is involved in the building of the main network, do our companies have enough experienced builders of such networks or foreign companies are engaged?
-The construction of the transmission system has been done with 100% participation of domestic companies, with outstandingly good pace. It is very important that such an experience and engineering capacity have been created and it can be even offered in the foreign markets, as well as our region and across Europe.
Which model do you recommend for the distribution network and for the selection of distribution operator?
-Such an important decision should not be based on recommendation or conviction. There is a good feasibility study done in 2014, ordered by the Ministry of transport and communication, which gives guidance on how to build, develop and maintain the distribution network. On the basis of that study, the government has already decided to build a distribution network with public-private partnership, as in almost all other countries. I expect this procedure to be launched very soon.
What is the price of a household connection and is there any possibility for subsidy?
-Looking at the prices in the region, I expect the price for the connection in the country to be cheaper than it is now, just like the price per cubic meter. We have also mentioned above that it is extremely important to develop a good model of subsidizing domestic installations for households, for which the government, of course, has been preparing thoroughly.