Friday, September 22

Teresa Ribera, on the new gas pipeline with Germany: “It could be up and running in eight or nine months on the Spanish side”

The Midcat, the gas interconnection between Spain and France through Catalonia, could be a reality in less than a year. At least as far as the Spanish side is concerned. This was stated this Friday by the Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, in a interview on RTVE.

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“The interconnection through the Catalan Pyrenees can be operational in eight or nine months on the southern border side. That is why it is essential to go hand in hand with France ”, he assured just a few hours after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opted for the creation of a large pan-European gas pipeline that would link Portugal and Spain with his country.

“Our intention, from the first moment, is that this interconnection be financed as a European project, which we had to work on simultaneously with the French Government. It makes little sense that we run a lot and on the French side it becomes a dead end because there is no way to evacuate that gas”, Ribera stressed. An installation that has to be prepared for a useful life of 30, 40 or 50 years and that, in the future, will allow hydrogen to be transported.

“The interconnection with Catalonia is a project that, at the time, declined because it was not economically viable in a context where Russian gas was much cheaper than liquefied natural gas”, the minister stated. “The idea we are working on, with Enagás and the French gas infrastructure manager, is to find a way to speed up a first interconnection with less complexity. Secondly, we have transferred it to the German Government, the possibility that Germany itself be invited to the working group on how to improve interconnections with France”.

“The biggest advantage of these statements by Chancellor Scholz is that they show that interconnections in the European Union are not a bilateral issue. Until now we have gone alone, with France. A greater interest of the Member States helps to facilitate interconnection objectives that are below what is foreseen by European regulations precisely because of these difficulties and the different emergency situation of the different countries”, Teresa Ribera argued.

Other short-term measures

The Executive’s head of energy recalled that Spain and Portugal, until now, have been isolated from the rest of Europe due to the lack of political will of other countries to speed up interconnection. “There is a skeleton of gas pipelines that connects the EU countries, especially the center and the east; and yet in the extreme west we remain isolated. The problem is the Pyrenees, how they cross and connect with France. The two gas systems that France has are prepared for the pressure at which the volume of gas must be sent”, she indicated.

However, despite the desire to build a new gas pipeline that crosses Europe from the peninsula, there are more measures in the short term. On the one hand, “organizing a sea bridge for large methane tankers that arrive in Barcelona”, Ribera pointed out, and from there, they transfer the liquefied gas to Italy through smaller ships.

Also -and the fastest proposal- to expand the current interconnection with France, which is already underway through Irún and Larrau. “It would be a matter of a very few months, two or three,” Ribera assumes. It is about “the installation of an additional compressor to increase the volume exported between 20% and 30%. It is not much, it is between 2% and 2.5% of the gas consumed in the EU”. It would mean increasing the current capacity, from 5 or 7 million cubic meters of gas (bcm), to 8 or 9, “the equivalent of two more methane tankers”, Ribera has compared.