GDF Suez SA (GSZ), Europe’s biggest utility by market value, agreed to study the development of six natural gas storage sites in China in depleted underground fields as well as a floating import facility.
The former French monopoly signed a technical service agreement today with China National Petroleum Corp. to assess the storage projects, which could be filled as early as this year, according to a statement from GDF Suez.
GDF Suez will also provide China with its first floating storage and regasification unit to be moored in Tianjin, the utility said.
The deals were reached during a two-day visit by French President Francois Hollande to China to meet with his counterpart Xi Jinping. The two leaders signed a series of accords calling for cooperation in civil aviation, nuclear power, food safety and tourism, according to reports.
China’s gas market is “growing at a very fast pace,” GDF Suez said. The market could double within five years as the country seeks to replace coal with gas to lower pollution.
The gas storage facilities could have a total volume of 10 billion cubic meters, or the same at France’s entire storage capacity, according to today’s statement. The project is part of China’s plan to have 24 gas storage facilities to hold 30 billion cubic meters by 2017 from 3 billion cubic meters today.
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