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Fluxys Belgium benefits from Europe's rush to secure gas supplies

(Reuters) - Gas pipeline operator Fluxys Belgium reported stable half-year results on Wednesday as strong demand to send gas from Belgium offset risks from Western sanctions imposed due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Our grid has once again confirmed its role as an energy hub for North-West Europe," the group said in a statement, citing the Zeebrugge terminal as an important gateway for natural gas via pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) via shipping.

Russia slashed gas deliveries to Europe after the West imposed sanctions over what Moscow called its "special military operation" in Ukraine, leading countries in the region to fire up old coal plants and expand LNG capacities.

On Wednesday, NATO and the European Union stressed the need to protect critical infrastructure after what they called acts of "sabotage" on the Nord Stream pipelines.

"The European Union requires Belgium and the other EU member states to have their gas storage facilities at least 80% full by 1 November this year," Fluxys Belgium said. "By 1 September, our underground storage facility in Loenhout – the only one in Belgium – was 92% full."

Fluxys Belgium also said it planned to bolster the Zeebrugge-inland route in the near term by building an additional pipeline between Desteldonk and Opwijk in order to create additional throughput capacity for Belgium and neighbouring countries.

The company, which is not active in the Russian market nor has investments in Russian companies, confirmed that it did not expect the conflict to have a major negative impact on its full-year consolidated result.

"Fluxys Belgium group sees no indications for impairment."

For the first six months of the year, the firm posted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 153.6 million euros ($149.44 million), against 155.3 million last year.

($1 = 1.0279 euros)

(Reporting by Juliette Portala, editing by Barbara Lewis and David Evans)