By Scott Kanowsky
Investing.com — A new gas pipeline connecting the Iberian peninsula and France may be ready by next summer and could be used to relieve potential energy supply constraints in the rest of Europe, according to a top Spanish official.
In an interview on broadcaster TVE, Spain’s energy and environment minister Teresa Ribera said that the pipeline – which would run through the country’s Catalonia region and the Pyrenees mountains into France – could be operational “in eight or nine months.”
Ribera’s statement comes after German chancellor Olaf Scholz suggested that Europe use these new exports to counter any possible disruptions of key flows out of Russia.
The Kremlin has already slashed gas supplies to the continent, and European Union officials have expressed concerns that it may further lower exports to retaliate against Western sanctions instituted after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.
Ribera described the situation as an “energy emergency” for Europe as it looks to wean itself off of Russian gas flows. She added that the Iberian pipeline plan would need “very important investment,” including the financial backing of Brussels.
Ribera also laid out two additional proposals to help Europe avoid a possible supply shortage. The first involves upgrades to existing infrastructure in Spain’s northern Basque region, with Ribera saying this would lead to a 20% to 30% rise in the country’s gas export capacity.
The second would see improvements to the logistics of Spanish boats and ports to boost the transportation of liquid natural gas to other places around Europe. The EU has had to increasingly depend on seaborne LNG imports from the Iberian peninsula due to dwindling Russian energy supplies, but pipeline capacity from the region to northern Europe remains limited.
On Thursday, Scholz said he discussed the new pipeline with leaders from Spain, France, and Portugal, as well as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
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