France, Spain, and Portugal stated that they had agreed to replace the MidCat project with an underwater pipeline between Barcelona and Marseille that would carry gas first, followed by green hydrogen.
According to Spain’s Energy Minister Teresa Ribera, construction of the proposed sea-based pipeline that will transport hydrogen and natural gas between Barcelona and Marseille will take between four and five years.
The Green Energy Corridor, a new project that would link the Iberian Peninsula to France and subsequently the European energy market between Barcelona and Marseille, will take the place of the MidCat project, it has been agreed. Pedro Sanchez, the head of the Spanish government, made the announcement as soon as he arrived in Brussels for a summit on the energy crisis that was organized by the European Union.
After much discussion, France, Spain, and Portugal have finally come to an agreement over this MidCat file. An undersea pipeline between Barcelona and Marseille will eventually replace the gas pipeline and be used to transmit both gas and then green hydrogen.
The MidCat (short for Midi-Catalonia) project, which was first introduced in 2003, sought to connect the gas networks of France and Spain by building a 190-kilometer pipeline through the Pyrenees from Hostalric, north of Barcelona, to Barbaira, east of Carcassonne.
Green gas and hydrogen
The issue, according to Pedro Sanchez, is “building a pipeline for green hydrogen but also in a transitional way for the gas, which the European energy market requires.” On December 8 and 9, in Alicante, Spain, Pedro Sanchez, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa are scheduled to meet to seal the accord.
The MidCat, which is supported by Madrid and Lisbon as well as Berlin, which sees it as a way to lessen the European Union’s reliance on Russian gas, was built to allow Spain, which has 30% of Europe’s capacity for LNG regasification, to export gas to the rest of Europe that was brought in by ship from the United States or Qatar.
Due to the project’s negative environmental effects, it was abandoned in 2019. Its potential for economic gain was also viewed as limited. In the long run, the gas pipeline should also make it possible to transport renewable hydrogen, of which Spain aspires to be a leader.
“The famous MidCat project is being abandoned,” declared Emmanuel Macron, “to promote a project that we will work on in the next weeks in a very intense fashion as a threesome.” The purpose, according to the President of the Republic, is to “work on the intensification and densification of our electrical interconnections, as well as to work on a hydrogen and renewable energy connectivity between Barcelona and Marseille.”
The target of Spain and Portugal being better connected to the rest of the continent is therefore raised, and the goal that was ours, to continue our climate transition strategy and energy, matches to this new initiative, he adds. European funding should be advantageous for the project.
Relieved are the project’s opponents
Local group “Non-au MidCat” in the Pyrénées-Orientales declares that it is “relieved if the gas pipeline project avoids scarring the Pyrenees, Roussillon, and Corbières.” The Franco-Spanish gas pipeline’s opponents, however, assert that this new proposal is still “an aberration for the climate and biodiversity.”
Philippe Assens, a representative for the group, claims “Between Barcelona and Marseille, the Mediterranean seabed is both highly rich and vulnerable. Similar to the Pyrenees, these seabeds also enjoy high levels of environmental protection thanks to projects like the Marine Natural Park of the Gulf of Lion “. The undersea solution would also be “disproportionately expensive at a time when the priorities are to aggressively plan for sustainable alternatives,” these environmental advocates warn.