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FT published - AUGUST 12 2022 - European governments continue to search for ways of weaning themselves off Russian power before huge increases in energy bills hit households over the next few months.

The latest push came with German chancellor Olaf Scholtz’s backing for a new gas pipeline linking Spain and Portugal to central Europe via France. The proposal, backed today by Madrid and Lisbon, could be ready within nine months, according to Spanish energy and environment minister Teresa Ribera.

In the meantime, according to Portuguese prime minister António Costa, the port of Sines on his country’s south-west coast could be used as a hub to ship liquefied natural gas into Europe. LNG is becoming increasingly important as Russian gas dwindles, but Europe faces strong competition from Asia to lock in supplies for the winter months.

The EU has identified the lack of alternative pipelines as a key obstacle in beefing up the bloc’s energy infrastructure. Berlin is already under serious pressure after Russia cut flows through Nord Stream 1, the key connector with Europe, which is currently running at just 20 per cent capacity. German households are bracing for a surge in heating bills this winter as the shortfall pushes up prices and complicates the country’s efforts to fill its gas storage facilities.

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