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Spain-France Natural Gas Pipeline Boosts Capacity By 18%

An existing natural gas pipeline from Spain to France via the Pyrenees has boosted its capacity by 18% and could be used immediately if France requests it, Spanish Energy Transition Minister Teresa Ribera said on Thursday while on a visit to one of the pipeline’s compressor stations. 

Spain and France are currently connected via two gas pipelines which could carry gas from Spain to its neighbor to the north if necessary.  

The interconnector which passes through Irun has successfully completed the technical start-up tests to increase capacity by 18% over current levels, which means that if fully utilized in the direction of France, the interconnector could provide 6% of France’s natural gas consumption.

According to Spanish media, Spanish operator Enagas expects the capacity increase to be ready as of November 1, the official start of the winter heating season in Europe. If necessary, the increased capacity can be used immediately because it is already technically available.

The Spanish minister said that the increased capacity of the interconnector at Irun will strengthen Europe’s gas supply security. 

Spain does not depend on Russia for gas supply, but it has six LNG import terminals and lies on the route of pipelines from North Africa to Europe. Spain, however, is not well connected via pipelines to other European countries, limiting European access to LNG imports.  

Spain proposes a third pipeline to France and onto central Europe, but France seems reluctant to have it built.

 New LNG terminals in northern and eastern Europe would be a better option to alleviate the European gas crisis than a new natural gas pipeline from Spain to France, the French energy transition ministry said in the middle of August. A new gas pipeline between Spain and France would take years to operational and cost at least $2.96 billion (3 billion euros), the French ministry said in a statement by Reuters.   

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Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, said a new natural gas pipeline connecting Spain and France may not make economic sense. 

By Josh Owens for Oilprice.com

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