…Proposed Midcat Transverses Portugal, Spain and Algeria   

France has opposed Germany’s plan to build a gas pipeline from Portugal running through Spain and France that will ferry Algerian liquefied natural gas {LNG} to central Europe.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron says he doesn’t believe the Midcat project line running from Portugal through Spain and France would alleviate the energy crisis

He suggests that it is logistically unsound as existing pipelines under the Pyrenees were only operating at half capacity and mainly flowing from north to south.
While lobbying frantically for the setting up of the project, last month, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, pushed for the pipeline to wean Europe from Russian energy dependence.

I do not understand what short-term problem this would solve,” Mr. Macron was quoted saying during a news conference after a video call with Mr Scholz about energy problems in Europe.
“I do not understand why we would jump around like Pyrenees goats on this topic,” he said, paraphrasing a famous expression by former president Charles de Gaulle.

Also Read: Soaring Gas Prices: Germany Announces $65bn Plan for Energy & Inflation Relief

The French president said he was not convinced of the need for more gas interconnections, pointing out that he will join Spain and Germany if they can show him that the opposite was true.
Spain and Portugal have huge gas import capacities through their LNG terminals and the German president sees the pipeline project as a way to boost gas interconnections and deliveries in the region.
France has long been opposed to a new cross-Pyrenees pipeline and prefers the installation of new LNG terminals.

Launched in 2013, the Midcat project is designed to connect to Spain’s gas pipeline north of Barcelona and could notably boost the import of Algerian gas by northern Europe.
The project was however suspended in 2019 due to cost and environmental reasons.

Macron seems not alone. Some EU officials are reportedly skeptical about the project, despite the consequences of Russia’s decision to indefinitely cut gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline
The thinking with the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, considers technical assessments which they indicate to them the new infrastructure would achieve no benefits and could take up to seven years to complete.

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The EC also considers EU’s green objectives to reduce dependency from fossil fuels having excluded gas projects from the commission’s priority list. Gas is now labeled a transitional fuel. Europe is considering various measures to intervene in the energy market, including price caps, reduced power demand and windfall taxes on energy companies as surging prices threaten the economy and push households towards poverty.

EU energy ministers are meeting this Friday to discuss these extraordinary measures. Spain considers the EU’s dismissal of the Midcat project as overly short-termist, suggesting the technical assessments did not consider the potential for transporting renewable hydrogen from the Iberian Peninsula, which it says is needed.

RepowerEU, the commission’s plan to reduce its dependency from Russian gas presented last May, noted that new investments to connect LNG terminals in the Iberian Peninsula with the rest of Europe through hydrogen-ready infrastructure could help to diversify gas supply and exploit the potential for renewable hydrogen.

Also Read: France Prefers LNG Terminals To New Gas Pipeline

Spanish environmental transition minister, Teresa Ribera, said the debate over the feasibility of Midcat shouldn’t end, even after Mr. Macron’s unfavourable intervention.
Discussions shouldn’t be halted because of one country’s stance, she said, adding that “Macron spoke for France’s public opinion”.

If the Midcat project fails to move forward, Spain is pushing for a gas pipeline with Italy that would connect Barcelona and Livorno.

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