German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said yesterday that he would push for the construction of a gas pipeline to increase supplies from Portugal and Spain to central Europe.
At a time when the continent is looking for new sources of energy to counter its dependence on Russia, Scholz regretted at a press conference that connections to the Iberian Peninsula had not been strengthened earlier. “It would have been, he said, a massive contribution to alleviating and easing the situation” of gas supplies, which Germany has received mainly from Russia in recent years.
For this reason, the German chancellor strongly advocated tackling a project that he said he will discuss with other leaders from Spain, Portugal and France, and which he also plans to present to the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen.
One of the projects Scholz referred to is the Midcat gas pipeline, planned to link Spain with France via Catalonia, which would double the current gas transport capacity between the two countries. The Midcat has been paralysed for years due to its high costs and the low price of Russian supplies. There are still 226 kilometres of pipeline to be built from the Catalan town of Hostalric to the French town of Barbaira, and Spain is asking the EU to cover the costs.
Currently, only two gas pipelines run from Spanish soil to the other side of the Pyrenees, with a total capacity of just 8 billion cubic metres per year, while ‘Nord Stream 2’, the failed project to export gas from Russia to Germany, can carry some 55 billion cubic metres.
On the other hand, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, said yesterday in statements to TVE that we should not rule out a scenario in which Russia makes good on its threats and decides to completely cut off gas supplies to Germany, putting the EU’s economic engine at risk.
In any case, Albares tried to convey calm in the case of Spain, stressing that there is currently no gas supply problem. “We have 50 percent of Europe’s regasification capacity. In any case, the situation is the other way round, we are part of the solution if this scenario occurs,” he said.