France to re-evaluate MidCat gas pipeline across Pyrenees with open mind, Portugal says
By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON (Reuters) – France is willing to re-evaluate its opposition to the proposed MidCat natural gas pipeline across the Pyrenees mountains amid the energy crisis in Europe, Portugal’s secretary of state for EU Affairs told Reuters on Wednesday.
Tiago Antunes said that he discussed the MidCat pipeline with France’s junior Europe minister, Laurence Boone, on Tuesday at a meeting in Paris, in which the essential topic was the gas and electricity interconnections between Spain and France.
“The reaction I had from (France) was that they were willing to revisit the MidCat with fresh eyes, with an open mind, taking into account the arguments of Portugal, Spain and also Germany”, Antunes said in a telephone interview with Reuters in Lisbon.
French President Emmanuel Macron said three weeks ago he opposed the MidCat project, arguing that two existing pipelines across the Pyrenees which divide the Iberian Peninsula from France are under-utilised with flows going mainly toward Spain.
Antunes said that the proposal from the two Iberian countries and Germany for building MidCat were reinforced due to the energy crisis in Europe and the “geo-strategic risks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.
“We expect that, with a new assessment of the project (by France), and taking into account the new circumstances, it will be concluded that it is worthwhile and must move forward,” he said, adding it was “in the interest of the whole of Europe”
First launched in 2013 only for natural gas, the MidCat project that could more than double the volume of gas piped between Spain and France was suspended in 2019 for environmental and economic viability reasons.
Antunes said now MidCat could be used transport renewable gases, such as green hydrogen, which is made by electrolysis out of water using renewable wind and solar energy.
(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Additional reporting Graham Keeley; Editing by Marguerita Choy)