Former US ambassador George Glass tried to dynamise pipeline before pandemic
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken out today in favour of a pipeline to transport gas from Portugal through Spain and France to the rest of Europe to reduce the current dependence on Russian gas.
Back in October of 2019, Spain proved “unwavering” in its opposition to the plan.
Now, with so much having changed on the geopolitical scene, Scholz says he regrets that such a link has “not yet been built because it would now make it possible to make a massive contribution” to supply in northern Europe due to the energy crisis that has arisen following the war in Ukraine.
Quoted by Spain’s Efe news agency, the chancellor said he has spoken with colleagues from Portugal, Spain and France, and with the president of the European Commission, “to push for this project, as the existence of links with North Africa would help diversify supply”.
A pipeline with these characteristics “would solve the current problems“, he said,highlighting his government’s efforts to reduce energy dependence on Russia and admitting that previous governments had not considered this possibility.
“Every government, every business must take into account that situations can change and prepare for if that happens,” Scholz said, after acknowledging that the current government coalition (Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals) was “surprised” by the lack of alternatives to a possible reduction in Russian gas supplies.
Despite this situation, the German leader stresses it has been possible “in record time” to look for alternatives to guarantee gas supplies next winter but admits “they will be more expensive”.
Germany’s gas deposits have reached about 75% of their capacity, according to the latest data from the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), a level that, according to the government’s objectives, should be reached by September 1.
The German government has set a target for deposits to reach 75% of capacity on September 1, rising to 85 per cent on October 1 and 95 per cent on November 1 – the level sufficient to guarantee supply throughout the winter.
But all these targets depend on the continued supply of Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipeline, explains Lusa.
Russian group Gazprom interrupted supplies last month, “claiming the need for maintenance tasks. When service was restored, volume was down to 20% of its capacity, down from 40% previously”, adds Lusa.
There is also disagreement in the German coalition government over whether to postpone the end of the last three remaining nuclear power plants, which were due to cease operating by the end of the year.
The Greens have rejected postponement “without ruling it out completely”; the Liberals propose postponing until 2024 – and advocate reactivating, if necessary, another plant that was taken out of service last year.
Currently, Germany’s three nuclear plants in operation guarantee 6% of the country’s electricity supply.