Portugal seeks to position itself as Europe’s ‘new gas gateway’ – EURACTIV.com

The European Union will find it difficult to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, but must do so to avoid possible supply shortages next winter, a Portuguese minister said on Wednesday March 16, adding that Portuguese imports of natural gas liquefied (LNG) could help.

Russia supplies around 40% of the bloc’s natural gas.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU leaders agreed to phase out Russian fossil fuels and the Commission announced it would publish a detailed plan in May for EU countries to EU stop using Russian gas, oil and coal by 2027.

Eventually, the bloc is seeking to wean itself more widely from fossil fuels as it targets net-zero emissions by 2050.

“The war in Ukraine will certainly push Europe towards faster decarbonisation because it cannot rely so much on fossil fuels which it does not produce,” Portugal’s environment and transition minister told Reuters. energy, João Matos Fernandes.

“It won’t be easy. It is a Herculean task but it is a necessity, because Europe must diversify the sources of its natural gas imports.

EU leaders, while supporting a reduction in the use of Russian fossil fuels, stopped short of an outright ban.

Germany, which receives pipeline directly from Russia and lacks LNG import capacity, was at the forefront of those raising concerns about economic damage.

Portugal, on the other hand, imports LNG via Sines, the closest European port to the United States.

Matos Fernandes said “the port of Sines could be a new gateway for gas coming into Europe” from suppliers such as Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the United States.

Portugal plans to improve the efficiency of LNG offloading at Sines, increase storage and build a third gas pipeline to Spain, within four years, “which would increase its firm export capacity to the ‘Spain from 70 GW per day to 150 GW per day,’ he added. noted.

But, for this to be effective, he said it was crucial to build a second gas pipeline between Spain and France.

Many environmental activists oppose new gas pipelines and say the focus should be on investing in renewable energy.

Earlier this month, a director of French gas pipeline operator Terega told Reuters there was no talk of reviving gas pipeline projects between France and Spain, which could take up to five years to materialize. Instead, efforts focused on optimizing the operation of existing gas pipelines.

Spain is pushing to relaunch the MidCat interconnector with France, a project that was halted in 2019 after French and Spanish regulators rejected a key section of the planned pipeline.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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