France changes position and gives the green light to discuss with Spain about the execution of the MidCat gas pipeline, rejected by Emmanuel Macron just a few weeks ago. From Paris, they assure that at no time has the dialogue been broken and they are open to studying their long-term viability.
“Discussion and dialogue are not broken, on the contrary”, Elysee sources now confirm to Efe, after the Macron government assured earlier this month that new gas interconnections between Spain and France were not necessary.
These sources assure that this interconnection that would connect Germany, France, Spain and Portugal via Catalonia is “relevant”, but not in the short term. In this way, the Elysee opens the door to this gas pipeline in the future.
[Bruselas se suma a Scholz: quiere el MidCat pero no aclara si para su construcción habrá fondos UE]
“We want to insist thata French and Franco-Spanish reflection has never been broken”these sources have highlighted, according to Efe, but it is necessary to study what will be needed in the future.
It must be remembered that last August andhe German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in favor of a pipeline transporting gas from Portugal and through Spain and France towards the rest of Europe, to cut the current dependence on Russian gas.
A 2019 project
The MidCat project was parked in 2019 because the French and Spanish network operators concluded that it was not justified, taking into account the costs and the profitability that could be obtained.
In recent months, and due to the energy crisis resulting from the invasion of Ukraine, Spain has tried to reactivate this project alleging the need to supply the European market with alternative sources to the closure of the Moscow tap in Nord Stream.
[EDITORIAL: Scholz pone la primera piedra del ‘South Stream 1’ ibérico]
France, until now, has argued that the infrastructure to bring gas from Spain to central Europe would cost billions of euros. From Paris they have also argued that the two gas pipelines that now exist between Spain and France they have been using only a little more than 50% of its capacity since the start of the Ukraine war in February.
A) Yes, Spain, Germany and Portugal want to activate the MidCat, but France hinders him. With the obvious fact that the current scenario, with half of its nuclear shutdowns, and with future electricity prices in the French republic of more than 1,000 euros/MWh, is very different. And worrying.
Currently, Spain has the capacity to pump about 7 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year to the north of Europe via the Navarra (5.2 bcm) and Basque Country (1.8 bcm) connections.
The MidCat gas pipeline to connect France and Spain through the Catalan Pyrenees, which in the past was part of the list of projects of common interest of the European Commission until Paris and Madrid gave up the project in 2019, would add about 7.5 bcmfor a total export capacity of about 15,000 million cubic meters.
Spain wants to promote this infrastructure and for it to have European financing, which would contribute to replacing part of the gas that until now was bought in Moscow, whose main client was Germany (46 bcm in 2021). This has been expressed by Teresa Ribera, who has assured that the Spanish part of the project could be finished in months.
Support from Germany
On August 11, the German Prime Minister, Olaf Scholzpublicly relaunched the debate on the construction of a gas pipeline that could link the Iberian Peninsula with Central Europe, through France, indicating that said infrastructure currently “dramatically missing”.
This statement was immediately followed by messages of support from Spain and Portugal. The Third Vice President and Minister for the Ecological TransitionTeresa Riveraand also the President of the Portuguese Government, Anthony Costaquickly joined the German proposal.
The same did only a few days later Pedro Sánchez, who found himself with the resounding ‘no’ from France. Now, the Elysee resumes contacts in the face of an energy crisis that is expected to be long and complicated for thousands of families and companies.