Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said his country – and southern Europe more broadly – could provide an answer to Russia’s lack of gas supplies as the region seeks to double down on sanctions against Moscow.
“Spain and, I would say, southern Europe, will have a chance to provide an answer to this fossil fuel energy dependence of Russia,” Sanchez told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday night. .
Sanchez pointed out that Spain accounts for 37% of the European Union’s total regasification capacity – where liquefied natural gas is converted back into the end product of natural gas. He also said that the Iberian Peninsula, occupied by Spain and Portugal, is home to around half of the EU’s LNG storage.
“This war has also taught us a very important lesson, that renewable energy, hydrogen, energy efficiency is not only a great ally for countries and economies to fight against climate change efforts. climate, but also in this very complex and very uncertain geopolitical scenario which will also provide us with means to increase our resilience and self-reliance,” he added.
Energy prices have soared this year as Russia’s assault on Ukraine destabilized markets and Western nations imposed sanctions on Moscow. Prices on the Dutch hub TTF, a European benchmark for natural gas trading, more than tripled between February 16 and March 7 as Russia launched the unprovoked invasion of its neighbour.
The issue of energy security – and soaring energy prices – has been at the center of the political debate in Spain, with Madrid being one of the most vocal capitals on the need for European action to bring down prices for consumers.
Along with neighboring Portugal, Spain has introduced a temporary cap on the price of natural gas and coal – a move that sets them apart from most other EU countries.
Sanchez said the EU energy market is not fit to respond to the current crisis. “This is just the start of a big reflection that we have to deal with at European level,” he said.
Spain angered Algeria earlier this year after Madrid decided to re-export gas to Morocco, amid a diplomatic standoff between the two North African countries which share a land border.
Sanchez dismissed on Monday the idea that Spain was replacing Russia with another unstable supplier, Algeria, which threatened to cut off gas flows to Madrid over its deal with Morocco.