Spain says pipeline to France may be ready in 8 or 9 months

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A possible new gas connection between Spain and France could be ready to go live in less than a year, Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said on Friday, if France and other European countries agree to the project.

The European Union is trying to divest itself of Russian natural gas in a hurry following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has put new interconnection projects in the spotlight. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday advocated the construction of a gas pipeline from Portugal to central Europe, passing through Spain and France.

“That new interconnection, this gas pipeline, may be operational in approximately 8 or 9 months on the side of the southern border, that is, from the Pyrenees to Spain,” Ribera said in an interview with the national network TVE.

The France-Spain connection would require the laying of another section of gas pipeline to connect the Spanish grid with the French one.

Scholz said a gas pipeline connecting the Iberian Peninsula with central Europe would “greatly alleviate the current supply situation,” adding that he had already discussed it with the leaders of Spain, Portugal, France and the European Commission.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Scholz’s statement “reinforces the pressure on European institutions to unblock this situation once and for all” and suggested that an alternative to a link through France would be a maritime gas pipeline from Spain to Italy.

Spain and Portugal have long pushed for a new pipeline, given its ability to receive shipments of liquefied natural gas that could be sent to the rest of Europe.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said the European Union has to pay for interconnections.

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The general director of the Spanish gas network operator Enagás (BME:ENAG), Arturo Gonzalo Aizpiri, recently said that the complete gas pipeline project between France and Spain, which was abandoned in 2019 after regulators deemed it financially unviable, could be completed at a cost of 600 to 700 million euros in 2 1/2 years.

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