Friday, March 24

The Foment employers ask to resume the gas pipeline between Spain and France to avoid depending on Russia

The main employers’ organization in Catalonia, Foment del Treball, believes that Spain can become an “energy hub” if it plays its cards right in the face of the closure of borders and trade with Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine. This has been defended this Monday by its president, Josep Sánchez Llibre, who has intervened in an act of the Mobile World Congress. Before the entrepreneurs of the technology sector, the head of Foment has assured that “Europe must seek energy independence from Russia”, for which he has called to resume the construction of the Midcat gas pipeline, unfinished and which would link Spain with France through the Pyrenees .

It is, he said, the “most viable and feasible” project to transport gas from the Iberian Peninsula to Europe, and would allow the supply of natural gas that Germany now depends on Russian supply. “Spain can play a new geopolitical role thanks to its capacity to supply gas to European countries. Spain can be a gas hub for Europe, with the collaboration of Portugal,” Sánchez Llibre defended.

The Midcat gas pipeline is a project that aimed to generate a connection of up to 70 bcm (billions of cubic meters), according to Foment, coming from Algerian gas or from the regasification plants that use the liquefied gas that comes through the United States. This tube is currently built to Hostalric, about 30 kilometers from the city of Girona, but it was definitively parked in 2019. Spain, on the other hand, has gas connections through Euskadi and Navarra, although smaller in size. With the new infrastructure, Foment assures that it could go from 8 bcm of gas per year to 17, which is estimated to mean around 10% of the natural gas that Europe consumes from Russia.

According to what the employers now defend, if this connection with France were completed, Spain could supply natural gas to Germany, in order to avoid its dependence on Russian supplies. “The economic and technical viability[ofthisgaspipelineisunquestionabletodayandstrategicallyitisapriority.SpainmustmakeastrongcommitmenttobeingEurope’sgashub.TheMidcatconstructionprojectisastrategicprojectinEuropetoguaranteegreaterenergysovereigntyandhavethecapacityforgeopoliticalinfluence”underlinedthepresidentofFoment.

The Midcat project was an initiative that progressed slowly from the first decade of the 21st century until 2018, when the French and Spanish regulators stopped betting on this connection and the European Union definitively removed it from the Projects of Common Interest. Those were years in which the energy ties between Germany and Russia were strengthened with the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. But with Russia’s geopolitical turn, that infrastructure has been frozen and the Spanish alternative has been put back on the table. Spain is currently the country with the most liquefied natural gas plants in Europe, a source that has gained prominence in recent weeks while the flow from Russia is declining.