French port at Dunkirk home to a newly-commissioned terminal for natural gas for the European continent. Photo by jfgalmiche/Pixabay
PARIS, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- French utility company EDF said commercial operations started at Europe's only terminal for natural gas that's connected to two regional markets.
EDF commissioned the start up of its Dunkirk regasification terminal at a site in the harbor that bears its name in northern France. The French company said the terminal will be used to import, store and regasify liquefied natural gas to the mainland.
"The Dunkirk regasification terminal is the second largest in mainland Europe and is the only one in Europe to be directly connected to two consumption markets: France and Belgium," the company explained in a statement.
Liquefied natural gas is less exposed to geopolitical rows that could impede natural gas deliveries through conventional pipeline arteries because of fewer transboundary issues. Spats between Russia and Ukraine, which hosts a large network of Soviet-era pipelines, have caused supply disruptions in a European economy looking to break Russia's grip on the energy sector.
The French company said Dunkirk harbor is situated "at the crossroads" of European trading hubs in the English Channel and the North Sea, one of Europe's largest basins for natural gas. U.S. advocates of a more expansive natural gas sector have said also that LNG sourced from inland shale basins could potentially eat into Russia's position in Europe.
Marc Benayoun, a gas-sector director for EDF, said the Dunkirk terminal strengthens the regional gas market.
"I am delighted that commercial operations have started up at the Dunkirk regasification terminal, thus creating a new point of gas importation in France and strengthening security of supply in Europe," he said in a statement.