AA / Oviedo / Alyssa McMurtry
The Irun gas pipeline, which transports natural gas between Spain and France, was put into service on Tuesday with a capacity increased by 66%.
The increase in its capacity from 1.5 billion cubic meters to 3.5 billion cubic meters, according to a press release from Enagas, the Spanish transmission system operator, published on October 28.
This increase represents an 18% increase in gas pipeline export capacity from Spain to France and the rest of Northern Europe.
This increase in capacity coincides with the start of the winter heating season and aims to strengthen the European gas network in the face of the Russian threat to cut gas supplies.
According to Enagas, the expansion is part of the solidarity measures Spain has put in place with Europe.
Due to its relative isolation from the rest of the European gas infrastructure for years, Spain has built a large number of natural gas liquefaction facilities.
Spain is home to 45% of the European Union’s (EU) liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage capacity, according to Enagas, which could prove essential as the European bloc reduces its reliance on Russian gas.
In the first eight months of 2022, Spanish natural gas exports to France increased by 137% compared to the same period in 2021, according to Cores, the Spanish entity responsible for maintaining oil and gas reserves. .
However, Spain’s still-limited connections to the European gas network remain a bottleneck, limiting the transport of Spain’s abundant gas capacity to the rest of the bloc.
While Spain and Portugal had advocated completing the construction of the MidCat gas pipeline, which would constitute a third gas pipeline linking France and Spain, the project was abandoned less than two weeks ago, following a weak French reaction. enthusiastic.
Instead, the three countries agreed to build an undersea pipeline linking Barcelona and Marseille. According to the Spanish Minister of the Environment, the new gas pipeline will not be operational for at least four or five years.
In this interval, the increase in the capacity of the Irun gas pipeline (which leaves from the Spanish city of the same name) reinforces French and European energy security, while Spain will continue to re-export LNG by sea.
Spain has also committed to increasing the infrastructure of the port of Barcelona in order to increase its capacity for exporting LNG to Italy by ship.
“In order to meet the gas needs of the population and our industries in the long term, we believe that it is essential to build a flexible and resilient gas network, able to make the most of all the infrastructures present in Europe” , said Dominique Mockly, CEO of the French operator Teréga in a statement relating to the extension of the Irun gas pipeline.
* Translated from English by Ümit Dönmez
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