Spain, gateway for gas to Europe


With guaranteed supplies, the country aims to capitalize on its powerful regasification network to lead the new energy distribution map

Spain is not a gas-producing country, but it is called to be a pillar of the new gas distribution system that Europeans are consuming. Until now, Russia has controlled the administration, with countries the size of Germany relying on more than 50% of its transports, a commercial relationship that has been blown up as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

The main goal is to reduce energy dependence as much as possible. A plan that would require years of work, but in view of the current scenario must be implemented urgently before next winter. And here Spain could play a key role as the region’s ‘energy lifeline’, in addition to contributing to Brussels’ target of cutting its gas consumption by 15% between now and next spring.

Spain’s major asset on the new distribution map coming up is its huge storage capacity, thanks in particular to the six liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification plants currently operating in the country (Barcelona, ​​Bilbao, Cartagena, Huelva, Mugardos and Sagunto).

In fact, Spain is the country with the largest number of regasification plants in the EU. And third in the world, only behind Japan and Korea.

In total, our country represents 44% of the storage capacity of the entire region, without yet having the El Musel plant, which is expected to be commissioned at the end of this year or early 2023, adding another 300,000 cubic meters of LNG to the system.

Currently, and according to data from Enagás, the factory with the largest storage capacity is the one in Barcelona, ​​with six tanks sharing 760,000 cubic meters, although the ones that contribute most to the system are those in Bilbao and Cartagena. 21% and 20% of the total.

Although the figures vary from day to day, the total stocks in the 20 tanks that make up the six operational plants already amount to about 84% (with underground storage to be added). In other words, Spain is already exceeding the 80% storage target that Brussels had set for 1 November.

With these figures, the national supply is guaranteed. But the key lies in using plants to increase export power. We must not forget that the path that LNG travels to our borders is complex.

It is transported in huge methane tankers – which can carry between 100,000 and 250,000 cubic meters of LNG – which have almost absolute flexibility. They can even change course halfway through the journey to unload elsewhere if they wish.

In total, Spain receives this gas in liquid form from 14 different countries, boosting post-war imports into Ukraine, especially from the US, which has become our main ‘supplier’, accounting for 32.9% of the total between January and June, according to data provided by Enagás.

The gas that arrives in the liquid state at 160 degrees Celsius below zero in the methane tankers is discharged into the regasification plants and the temperature is raised through a physical process using seawater evaporators. This makes it gaseous again, so that it can be injected and then transported through the gas pipeline network.

And here comes the big challenge for Spain. In order for the country to function as an alternative to the Nord Stream I and II gas pipelines coming from Russia, there must be a good connection between our country and the rest of Europe, via France.

Just a week ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz championed the start-up of a gas pipeline between Spain and France that would make it possible to increase the supply of gas from the Iberian Peninsula to Central Europe. Knowing its storage capacity and export potential, Spain welcomed the proposal and its third vice president, Teresa Ribera, assured the Spanish section could be ready in just “eight or nine months”.

Currently, the only gas connection Spain has with France is a twin gas pipeline that runs under the western part of the Pyrenees, one in Irún and the other in the Navarrese Pyrenees. Between the two, they can barely export 8,000 million cubic meters per year, while the so-called Midcat could double that shipping volume.

Moreover, transport via these infrastructures is much cheaper than via methane tankers. “With the methane tanker, transport costs are between 20% and 30% higher because it involves more processes that are not needed in a gas pipeline,” explains Roberto Scholtes, head of investment at UBS in Spain.

They recall from the Ministry of Ecological Transition that this infrastructure has been on the table at the Commission for “decades”. But the project came to a standstill in 2019 after it had invested 440 million euros in it. One of the reasons is the high cost and commitment to renewable energy sources.

Since the outbreak of the war, talks have resumed and Spain proposes that Europe help finance the construction of the 200 kilometers between Hostalric (Girona) and the French city of Barbaira.

But the big obstacle to the Midcat again is France, which claims that such a project would take “several years” to be operational, which would not solve the current crisis. In addition, they ensure that the construction of a new gas pipeline would defeat the objectives of combating climate change. “Our goal is to stop using fossil fuels by 2025, which means reducing our gas consumption by accelerating the development of carbon-free energies,” they explain.

Faced with this situation, Minister Ribera this week asked the European Commission for its “maximum involvement”. “Interconnections between states are a matter of European policy,” he noted. He recalled that France asks for energy from its neighbors, so the country must understand that “the building of Europe involves the common commitment of energy and infrastructure policies”.

Even the opposition is putting Europe under pressure. In a parliamentary question to the Community Executive, the People’s Party spokesman in the European Parliament, Dolors Montserrat, last Thursday called again for the European Commission to bet on the MidCat gas pipeline that could connect Spain to the rest of Europe and to in what period do you foresee that it could work.

“You have to bet on renewables, but also react quickly to an energy crisis that could drag on over time,” said Montserrat, pointing out that the EU has included gas and nuclear energy in its list of green energy sources for the energy transition.

Source: La Verdad


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:



More like this

Years of martyrdom – parents allegedly abused their daughter: custody

The regional criminal court on Monday evening imposed pre-trial...

The Cortes Generales are formed on August 17

The election campaign will begin at 00:00 on Friday,...

“Benefit for Erdogan” – Election Observers Criticize Turkey’s Election

After the second round of the elections for the...