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Portugal’s Sines port ready to double gas capacity

Portugal’s top port is ready to double the capacity of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, an executive said Thursday, as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

The LNG terminal at the port of Sines was the first to receive US tanker shipments in 2016 and it now imports about four million tonnes per year of gas from both the United States and Nigeria.

“Sines could handle up to 10 million tonnes,” the director of the port, Jose Luis Cacho, told AFP.

“The current infrastructure must be doubled to reach those figures, but the investment is rather small and, if a decision were taken today, it could happen in one or two years,” he added.

European nations import large amounts of natural gas from Russia, and they have looked to LNG as an alternative as they seek to both reduce their dependence upon Moscow and punish it for its invasion of Ukraine.

While Portugal and Spain have terminals to take LNG from tankers and inject it into their gas pipeline networks, there is currently little pipeline capacity to carry it to France and further into Europe.

Cacho said if the connections between the national pipeline systems are expanded then Portugal and Spain could eventually supply up to 20 percent of Europe’s needs with LNG and Algerian gas that arrives via pipeline.

The programme of the new government of Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa, which was due to be submitted Thursday to parliament, puts a priority on building pipelines to link European gas networks.

“As a long-term ambition, that would make sense, as a short-term measure, it will have no impact because it will take us several years to build that pipeline,” said Andy Brown, head of the Portuguese gas and oil firm Galp Energia, during a meeting with foreign journalists Thursday.

Moreover, with a lack of spare LNG production on the market, it will also also take several years for suppliers to respond to greater European demand, he added.

Brown said the best way to boost production in the short-term was to increase the security of facilities in Nigeria to ensure uninterrupted output.