The Spanish government announced on Thursday that it has increased by about one-fifth the gas delivery capacity from Spain to France, thanks to work carried out in the Basque Country on one of the two pipelines linking the two countries.
This work will allow Spain, which has the largest LNG regasification capacity in Europe, to “significantly increase its gas shipping capacity”, said the Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, during a trip to Irun, in the Spanish Basque Country (northern Spain).
“At the gates of a winter that promises to be complicated” in terms of energy in many European countries due to the conflict in Ukraine and its fallout, it is important to “reduce our dependence” on Russian gas and “look for alternatives”, she added.
Spain currently has two connections with French gas pipelines, in Irun (Basque Country) and Larrau (Navarra). The total delivery capacity of these two pipelines was until now 7,000 million cubic meters per year, equivalent to 7 liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships per month.
To increase this capacity, Madrid announced this summer the installation of an “additional compressor” on the gas pipeline in the Basque Country, linking Irun to Hendaye (southwestern France). This work, carried out by the Spanish gas network operator Enagas, will allow the delivery of an additional 1,500 million cubic meters per year, an increase of more than 21% of the current capacity.
With this work, “we will be able to provide our French neighbor” with “the equivalent of 6% of its annual gas consumption”, stressed Ms. Ribera, also highlighting an element of “security” energy.
According to the CEO of Enagas, Arturo Gonzalo, “adaptations” still need to be made on the French side for the pipeline in the Basque Country to be fully operational. But this should be done “for the beginning of the winter campaign”, which is “on November 1”, he said.
Spain has a total of six gas terminals (port facilities that store and regasify LNG) representing almost 30% of the EU’s regasification capacity. But the country lacks gas interconnections with the rest of Europe.
To fill this gap, Madrid has tried in recent months to revive a gas pipeline project between Catalonia (northeastern Spain) and southeastern France, the MidCat, whose work was halted in 2019 because of its environmental impact and an economic interest then considered limited.
But this project, supported by Berlin, is opposed by France.
“I think it is premature to give it for death,” Ribera said Thursday, assuring that this type of project should be considered in the “medium or long term.