Visit to Euskadour Compressor Station

Teresa Ribera: "Irun's increased interconnection capacity will strengthen Europe's security of supply"

News - 2022.9.22

This facility has successfully completed technical commissioning tests to expand its natural gas supply capacity to Europe with an additional 1.5 billion cubic metres (1.5 bcm) per year. This is an 18% increase in export capacity compared with the current capacity, so Spain could supply France with the equivalent of 6% of its natural gas consumption.

"The station is already technically ready to send this gas when our French neighbours request it," said the Vice-President of the Government of Spain. "Let's look up. There is no end in sight to this war. That is precisely why we must be strategic. Let's help now, but let's think about winters to come. Renewable energies and interconnections to make them flow between friendly countries are the only way out."

The Euskadour pipeline links the Bahía Bizkaia Gas (BBG) regasification plant in Bilbao and the Gaviota storage facility in Bermeo with the Lussagnet underground storage facility in France. Following the tests, Enagás expects this capacity increase to be ready from 1 November, coinciding with the start of the gas winter. If necessary, it would be possible to start using this expanded capacity immediately, because it is technically already available.

The increase in the capacity of the Irun interconnection will contribute in the spirit of solidarity to the security of energy supply in Europe, which is particularly relevant in the current European context of reducing dependence on Russian gas, as contemplated in the European document REPowerEU.

"Spain is showing solidarity. And it wants to contribute, because it can, to strengthening Europe's security of supply. The increase in the capacity of the Irún interconnection will undoubtedly meet this objective", emphasised Ribera.

Moving towards energy sovereignty

"We cannot depend on Russia. The Vice-President of the Government of Spain pointed out that greater energy sovereignty means accelerating the deployment of renewable energies, efficiency and storage, but also requires pooling electricity and gas infrastructures in Europe and, to this end, strengthening interconnections, "thinking in terms of the present and the future, and by promoting green hydrogen".

In this regard, she stressed that the El Musel regasification plant in Gijón, which will play a strategic role as a gas storage logistics centre for Europe, will be fully operational in early 2023.

The Vice-President of the Government of Spain also announced the authorisation of three projects that will maximise solidarity with Italy. The jetty at the Enagás regasification plant in the Port of Barcelona will be adapted to increase its loading capacity, which will be able to carry gas to the coasts of our European colleagues using small vessels.

For its part, Italy has recently set up a "virtual pipeline" to feed its own regasification plants with small LNG tankers that would come to load Spanish plants, mainly in Barcelona.

Contributing to Europe's security of supply

"We want to once again express our willingness to contribute to the energy emergency that central and northern Europe is experiencing due to Putin's blackmail, using the regasification infrastructures that Spain already has for the benefit of all European countries", Ribera insisted during her visit to the facilities in Irún.

The Euskadour Compression Station is one of the two interconnections with France currently in existence, together with the Larrau station in Navarre, which play an important role in sending natural gas to Europe across the border with France.

Between them, the two have a maximum annual capacity of 7 billion cubic metres (7 bcm), equivalent to 7 shiploads of liquefied natural gas per month, and this capacity will be increased by an additional 1.5 billion cubic metres per year through Irun, bringing the their combined maximum capacity to a total of 8.5 billion cubic metres.

Enagás is carrying out technical work at the Irún interconnection to maximise the use of its two electric motor compressors, the main one and the reserve one, including the installation of more powerful machines to maximise gas transport capacity at this connection.

Non official translation