German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday stressed his strong support for a gas pipeline linking the Iberian peninsula to central Europe as Berlin scrambles to reduce dependency on Russia.
“I want to again underline that I very much support creating such a connection,” he told reporters when asked about calls to revive the defunct project known as MidCat.
He said that such a pipeline could ease supply shortfalls in the wake of the Ukraine war, in which Moscow has squeezed gas shipments in response to Western support for Kyiv, as well as transport “green” hydrogen in future.
Scholz said the “current crisis” had made plain how essential European cooperation on energy was.
“It contributes to our being able to provide more stability for our societies and economies, for citizens, for companies,” he said. “That’s why it’s a great mission to create a major European network.”
Sánchez, whose government has been pushing to revive the pipeline project linking the Catalan Pyrenees with France, said European infrastructure was sorely lacking to boost supplies from west to east.
He told a joint news conference he was “very grateful” that Scholz “shares the vision of a need to bolster our links” via the pipeline project.
Sánchez said Spain and Portugal were “ready to do everything possible to help the countries that currently suffer the most from dependence on Russian gas and Putin’s energy blackmail”.
The proposed pipeline would be similar to the defunct MidCat project which sought to link Portugal and Spain to France, but which drew opposition from environmental groups and was halted in 2019 when financing fell through.
France remains lukewarm about the pipeline, prompting Sánchez to suggest that it was possible for the connection to run through Italy instead.
Spain currently has six liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals for processing gas that arrives by sea which could help the EU boost imports.
But it only has two low-capacity links to France’s gas network, which has connections to the rest of Europe.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa also said such a pipeline link to central Europe was “a priority”.