The Netherlands is to benefit from up to EUR 500 million in European Investment Bank loans to expand and modernise its natural gas transmission network. An initial contract for EUR 375 million has been  signed with N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie and a  further tranche of EUR 125 million could follow at the end of 2008 or early 2009. This would make the project one of the biggest ever financed by the EIB in the Netherlands.

The loans will part-finance a EUR 1.1 billion project to maintain the Netherlands’ position as one of Europe’s major gas hubs through the laying of approximately 300 km of new pipelines and associated infrastructure. Most of the new pipelines will be located along one of the European Union’s priority trans-European energy networks (TEN-e).By means of this expansion Gasunie meets the need of the market for more transport capacity and contributes to security of supply in the Netherlands and Western-Europe.

“This substantial investment in the Netherlands demonstrates the Bank’s commitment to securing future EU energy needs as well as a project of important national interest,” said EIB President Philippe Maystadt. “The geographic position of the Netherlands means its gas network is of importance to the whole of Western-Europe.”

Financing transport and energy infrastructures has been a core EIB activity since the Bank’s foundation in 1958 and has grown in importance since the EU’s 1992 Maastricht treaty made developing Trans-European Networks (TENs) an EU policy goal. Since 1993 the EIB has lent a total of EUR 92 billion for TEN projects. In 2007 the Bank lent EUR 5.9 billion to support sustainable and competitive energy projects in the EU, of which EUR 1.4 billion was for financing TEN-e.

The EIB is the long-term financing arm of the European Union. In 2007 it lent EUR 47.8 billion, of which EUR 41.4 billion went to the EU’s 27 member states. In the past five years the Bank has lent EUR 2.9 billion for projects in the Netherlands.

Gasunie is a gas infrastructure and gas transmission company. The total length of its pipeline network is more than 15,000 kilometres and, with a throughput of almost 125 billion m3, ranks as one of the most extensive high pressure networks in Europe. Gasunie also offers other gas infrastructure services, including gas storage. The Gasunie network has strategic importance to the EU as a “junction” for imports from Norway and Russia and exports to neighbouring countries and the United Kingdom.