In Denmark, large black pipes are about to be buried in a muddy ditch as construction of a gas pipeline from Norway to Poland resumes after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
From plans for liquefied natural gas terminals in northern Germany, Finland and France to possible new routes through Spain and the Mediterranean, Europe is striving to get rid of its dependence on Russian gas, though experts say the task will take years.
In Middelfart, in central Denmark, work resumed last month on the Baltic Pipe project, a planned 900-kilometer connection primarily intended to help Poland reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas.
“Of course it is also to have the gas in the Danish system, but above all to help the gas systems of our good neighbors and our Polish good friends,” said Soren Juul Larsen, head of the project at the Danish energy infrastructure manager Energinet. , to AFP in English. †
Just a week after the invasion of Ukraine, the Danish environmental authority – concerned about the project’s impact on local mouse and bat populations – granted a permit to continue construction, after a nine-month suspension.
“The pipeline was shut down due to a lack of permission to protect wildlife and rare species,” Trine Villumsen Berling, a researcher at the Danish Institute of International Studies, told AFP.
“We expected it to be approved quickly, but of course the war made it a more pressing issue,” Villumsen said.
Not enough for everyone
Envisioned nearly 20 years ago, construction on the partially submerged pipeline began in 2018. It is expected to be commissioned in October, before being fully operational on January 1, 2023.
“We have a really good working relationship with all the contractors to speed up the planning (and do),” explained Juul Larsen during a site visit.
With an annual transport capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas, the pipeline should cover about 50 percent of consumption by Poland, which announced three years ago that it would end its contract with Russian giant Gazprom in 2022.
While this may be good news for Poland, it could pose problems for other European countries seeking to free themselves from Russian gas.
Norway, the second largest gas supplier in Europe after Russia, supplies at full capacity, so more gas to Poland means less for the rest of the continent.
“This project would help Poland, but could reduce Norwegian gas exports to the UK and Germany,” Zongqiang Luo, an expert at research firm Rystad Energy, told AFP.
In addition, many long-term contracts between Russia and European suppliers are still valid for 10 to 15 years, he noted.
While the European Union has resisted calls to immediately ban Russian gas, it has announced plans to cut imports by two-thirds this year and eliminate them completely by the end of the decade.
With Norway at full capacity, Dutch and British fields in decline and Russian gas declared undesirable, Europe is looking for gas from further afield, including liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipped by ship from the US, Qatar and Africa.
But such imports require the construction of large LNG terminals to turn them back into gas, or at the very least the purchase of floating storage regasification units (FSRUs).
As the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia has been suspended, Germany has urgently relaunched three LNG terminal projects previously considered to be of low priority.
One is expected to be completed in the winter of 2023-24, but the other two not before 2026.
Finland and Estonia last week announced a project to lease an import terminal vessel. Estonia and the other two Baltic countries say they have stopped importing Russian gas since April 1.
In southern Europe, Spain and Portugal are strengthening an alternative supply route to help Europe forgo Russian gas.
To this end, the port of Sines, the largest in Portugal, plans to double the capacity of its gas terminal in less than two years.
Spain, which is pipelined to Algeria and has large LNG terminals, could be another supply option for Europe, but this would require major efforts to improve connections with the rest of the EU, in particular via France. improve.
Another option under consideration is to connect Europe to gas from the eastern Mediterranean, where large reserves have been discovered over the past 20 years near Israel and Cyprus.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)