EU eyes Iberia-Italy pipeline to deliver gas to Europe

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) – European officials are considering a liquefied natural gas pipeline from Spain to Italy around protests over a gas link-up in the Pyrenees between France’s Iberian Peninsula and Central Europe, Portugal’s premier the minister said on Friday. ,

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Portugal and Spain could send a lot of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to be sourced from around the world. He gave no further details, but such an undersea pipeline could take years to complete.

EU countries have struggled to find common ground to reduce their reliance on Russian natural gas. Russian President Vladimir Putin has weaponized gas exports in Ukraine to pressure the bloc to ease its sanctions on the war. Putin has already cut gas exports to more than a dozen EU countries and reduced exports to major industrial power plants such as Germany. Many European officials fear he could cut gas exports to much of Europe in the winter, a time of prime demand.

The two Iberian countries receive LNG via pipeline from Algeria and Morocco, as well as by ship from countries such as the United States and Nigeria. But there are currently very few energy connections between Spain and Portugal and the rest of Europe.

“The Iberian Peninsula has the potential to replace a large part of the liquefied natural gas that Central Europe imports from Russia today,” Costa told reporters.

With six LNG plants in Spain – Europe’s largest in Barcelona – and one in Portugal, Iberian neighbors account for a third of Europe’s LNG processing capacity. Port-based terminals convert boatloads of supercooled LNG back into gas that then flows to homes and businesses.

Costa said Iberian plants could ship more LNG to other European ports during the pipeline’s construction.

Costa said the French government is still against a pipeline in the Pyrenees, citing environmental concerns, and added that the European Commission is assessing a link to Italy.

Costa’s remarks came after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking in Berlin on Thursday, said, “I have spent a lot of time dealing with a pipeline that we lack so much, namely the pipeline that runs between Portugal, Spain to France. Should have been built between Central Europe.

He added: “This will now make a major contribution to easing and easing the supply situation.”

Scholz said he was in talks with Spain, Portugal, France and the European Commission about the project.

The German chancellor’s comments were welcomed by Portugal and Spain, who could take advantage of his investment in LNG.

“Spain is well prepared,” Spanish Industry Minister Reyes Marotto told Antena 3 television on Friday. “We hope that if the German chancellor’s proposal is successful, we will have better gasification and more interconnections in Europe so that the Russians do not depend on gas and become self-sufficient in energy.”

The US government and business have long viewed Portugal’s deep-water Atlantic port of Signe as a springboard for expansion. They have identified the sign as a potential gateway to Europe for gas from fracking in the United States, which has allowed the US to boost LNG exports and offer lower prices.

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Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Frank Jordan in Berlin contributed.

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Follow all AP stories on the outcome of the war in Ukraine https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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