Portugal ready to take bigger LNG transportation role, official says

Europe could reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas by as much as 30% if it used more of Portugal and Spain’s LNG import capacity, a Portuguese government official told a Washington audience.

It would not even require more pipelines because the two countries’ terminals could store LNG and ship it by tanker to eastern Europe and other customers, Portugal’s Minister of the Sea Ana Paula Vitorino said at the Atlantic Council on Sept. 14.

The Sines LNG terminal in southern Portugal has a deepwater port that could be a storage and reexport hub if pipelines aren’t available, she said. “This would reinforce the role of the North Atlantic as a global LNG leader.”

Noting that Portugal and the US are long-time maritime allies, she said the southern European nation also is interested in developing its deepwater oil and gas potential, more offshore wind and wave energy, and offshore methane hydrates.

“There’s still a great deal of research and development needed before methane hydrates can be considered economically viable, although the Japanese have been very active in this,” Vitorino said. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that methane hydrates are seen as the kind of future resource today that shale gas was 15 years ago.”

Developing more offshore energy—whether from traditional or renewable sources—will require dealing candidly with affected stakeholders, particularly municipalities, she said. “Many believe this kind of exploration and production can conflict with tourism and other businesses. We’re trying to explain these activities’ real impacts.”

She said, “We’re also trying to improve our legal framework to make it more demanding. It’s the only way to assure our population that we’re doing this in the right way. We don’t have the kind of opposition you might see in other European countries because we’re moving slowly and cautiously.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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