According to Teresa Ribera, the Spanish Minister for the Environment, a gas pipeline project to connect Spain to France through the Catalan Pyrenees could become reality. The Minister stated on Friday, August 12, that according to calculations made by the government a pipeline could be operational in 8 or 9 months on the southern side of the border towards Spain.
During an interview with TVE, she said the government considered it “essential to go hand in hand” with the French Government to accelerate the project. She spoke of the comments made yesterday by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in which he spoke of such a pipeline from Portugal to the rest of Europe.
Ms Ribera said she believed that his message is key “to generating that political conviction of European interest that has a project of these characteristics”. The Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, has also assured that Germany can count ‘100 per cent’ on his country to build it, “today for natural gas, tomorrow for green hydrogen”.
Although she had not spoken personally with Scholz, Ribera conveyed the government’s will to him that it wishes to “contribute to the energy emergency that central and northern Europe is experiencing, using the capacity available to Spain”.
In other words, Ribera pointed out, “complex regasification infrastructures that have entailed an additional cost for Spanish gas consumers, but that allows them to be used for the benefit of European consumers”.
To ensure the gas supply for this winter, the Government is considering several types of action. One is the installation of an additional compressor at the connection points with France that already exist in the Basque Country. This could take around ‘two or three months’, which would increase the exported volume by between 20 and 30 per cent.
“We can provide between 2 and 2.5 per cent of the gas that can be consumed in the European Union as a whole”, explained Ribera, admitting that: “obviously, it is not much, but it is very relevant”.
The interconnection from Catalonia had been discussed some years ago, but at the time it was declined because “it was not economically viable in a context in which Russian gas was much cheaper than liquefied natural gas (LNG)”.
Now, the Ministry of the Environment is working on the idea with Enagas and with the French gas infrastructure manager to “accelerate, at least, the first phase, with less complexity”.
Regarding the development of the pipeline project, Moncloa has already conveyed to the German gas operators and to Berlin “the advisability of Germany being invited to participate in the high-level group working on how to make interconnections with France more effective”.
Scholz’s statement “shows that interconnections are important for the European Union as a whole”, stressed Ribera, “not a bilateral issue as seen up to now”. She added that a greater interest from the rest of the partners: “helps smooth out the road and to speed up the processes”.
According to the minister, the gas pipeline from Catalonia “promotes the security of supply” throughout the region. She added that she understands that it should be financed as a European project that would also have to be prepared for the future transport of hydrogen.
The involvement of the French government is “very important” stressed Ribera, because, among other reasons, the gas systems of that country have to be prepared for the pressure at which the gas will be sent, to make it reach the “skeleton of European gas pipelines”, as reported by diariodesevilla.es.
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