European Commission ‘supports, encourages’ Iberian-EU gas interconnections

  • Lusa
  • 12 August 2022

The position comes after on Thursday German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came out in favour of a pipeline to transport gas from Portugal through Spain and France to the rest of Europe.

The European Commission on Friday gave assurances that it will “support and encourage” Spain and France to push ahead with interconnections, including gas through Portugal, to increase the interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the European Union (EU).

“As referred to in the REPowerEU [European energy] plan, we will continue to support and encourage the Spanish and French authorities to accelerate the implementation of the three existing projects of common interest through the South-West Europe High Level Group with the aim of increasing interconnection capacity between the Iberian Peninsula and France,” indicates an official source from the EU executive in a written reply sent to Lusa news agency.

The position comes after on Thursday German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came out in favour of a pipeline to transport gas from Portugal through Spain and France to the rest of Europe, to reduce the current dependence on Russian gas at a time of war in Ukraine and energy crisis.

“We also think that additional investments to connect LNG [liquefied natural gas] import terminals on the Iberian Peninsula and the EU network through hydrogen-ready infrastructure can further contribute to diversify gas supply in the internal market and help tap the long-term potential of renewable hydrogen,” the EU source told Lusa.

On Thursday, the Portuguese prime minister, António Costa, assured that “Germany can count 100% on the commitment of Portugal for the construction of the pipeline”, and today he has already assured that the Portuguese route of the pipeline to the centre of Europe is already defined, with “work at a very advanced stage”.

Also today, the Spanish government pledged commitment to the German proposal for a gas pipeline between the Iberian Peninsula, from Portugal, and the rest of Europe and said that a connection in the Pyrenees could be ready in less than a year if France wants it.

Spain and Portugal have been asking the EU to speed up the increase in interconnections to transport gas between the Iberian Peninsula and other European countries, precisely because the Iberian Peninsula has few interconnections with the rest of Europe.

The RepowerEU energy package, presented by the European Commission in mid-May, provides for investment in this type of Iberian interconnections, with Portugal hoping to move forward with old interconnection projects with Spain in order to reach the rest of Europe, both for electricity and gas (natural and, in the future, hydrogen).

REPowerEU is the plan announced by Brussels to increase European energy resilience and make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030, following the Ukraine war and supply problems.

In the REPowerEU communication, the European Commission argues that the current high electricity prices on the Iberian Peninsula “underline the need” to build interconnections, pledging support for such projects.

Geopolitical tensions due to the war in Ukraine have affected the European energy market, as the EU imports 90% of the gas it consumes, with Russia accounting for around 45% of these imports, at varying levels between member states.

In Portugal, in 2021, Russian gas accounted for less than 10% of total imports.