The embargo on Russian gas has disrupted gas supplies to European countries. As a result, to find alternatives to meet gas needs, Europe is turning to the development of LNG infrastructure. This is particularly the case for the UK and Spain, which could be elevated to the top rank of gas suppliers in Europe.
With its pipeline connection to Algeria and extensive LNG terminals, Spain could serve as an alternative to Russian gas supplies.
However, achieving this goal would require extensive work to improve connections with the rest of the EU. “Spain can and must play an important role in Europe’s energy supply,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a meeting in Madrid with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Spain has six gas terminals that regasify and store LNG transported by sea. The country also has a direct supply of pressurized gas, thanks to a 750-kilometer long underwater pipeline linking Algeria to the Andalusian coast: the Medgaz, with a capacity of ten billion cubic meters per year.
The second pipeline with an equivalent capacity linking Spain to Algeria via Morocco is the GME (Gaz Maghreb Europe). Its operation was suspended in early November by Algiers against the background of a diplomatic crisis with Rabat.
Although Spain has one of the most extensive gas infrastructures in Europe, its supply faces an obstacle at the Pyrenees. Thus, new and more important connections with the European network are needed if Spain really wants to contribute to energy security in Europe.
To this end, the Europeans have put the MidCat project, launched by Spain, Portugal and France in 2003, back on the agenda. This is a gas pipeline project crossing the Pyrenees between Catalonia and the southwest of France, which should connect the Spanish and Portuguese networks to the European network.
This project, which was abandoned in 2019 because it was considered too expensive and was estimated to a half a billion euros. France believed that it did not really need it. Today, the issue is no longer topical and the debate is being reopened.
Entrepose Contracting, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Taylor Woodrow, subsidiaries of VINCI Construction, have joined forces to build a 190,000 m3 LNG tank on the Isle of Grain, located on the east coast of England. This project will be part of the capacity expansion program of Europe’s largest LNG terminal.
Estimated at €200 million, the work will be completed in June 2025.
The UK’s maritime waters have always been at the center of things with increasing import and export activities around the world.
For example, the UK will in the short term act as an energy bridge with the creation of regasification infrastructure that will distribute LNG via the BBL pipeline to the Netherlands or via the Interconnector pipeline to Belgium and other European countries.
National Grid plc, a British multinational electricity and gas utility, said on April 14 that the U.K. will increase its gas exports over the next six months. The goal will be to help Europe fill its gas storage sites before next winter.
This summer, UK gas exports to the EU will reach 5.1 billion cubic metres, well above the 2021 volumes, when exports totalled only 0.7 billion cubic metres.
The issue of gas supply is urgent in Europe. While Spain and the UK are the most likely countries to become European suppliers, other member countries are also planning numerous projects to source LNG such as : Germany.