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Midcat gas pipeline in Catalunya, Spain


Description:

The Midcat is a projected gas pipeline that would link the Spanish and the French natural gas systems through the regions of Catalonia and Midi Pyrénées. The first 87 km stretch of the gas pipeline (from Martorell to Hostalric) was carried out in 2012, but the project was then set in stand-by due to a lack of interest from the French government. The construction of the first part of the Midcat pipeline was highly controversial back in 2012 due to severe environmental and social impacts in the areas involved. Moreover, the company Enagas was accused of a lack of rigor when planning, executing and managing the project. Nowadays, there are plans of resuming the project in 2019, although there is still uncertainty about the exact date. A new movement of resistance in the province of Girona is mobilizing to oppose the 2nd phase of the project.

Local impacts caused by the construction of the first phase of the Midcat gas pipeline are diverse and profound. Environmental problems are the most visible and appear in many different forms. The Midcat gas pipeline layout crosses through many spaces of high ecological value such as protected forests, rivers, creeks and agricultural lands. Some of those natural spaces are deeply connected to the culture of the area, such as the “Bosc de Can Déu” or the “Torrent de Colobrers”. Considering that the construction of the pipeline involved the total cut out of a 30 meters band, the natural (and cultural) destruction is significant. Moreover, leakage of natural gas is a common issue in underground pipelines. Depending of the extent of the leakages groundwater and surface land could be polluted, and thus there would be direct impacts on sources of livelihood in the area.

People involved in the opposition in the first phase of the Midcat mainly regret about the opacity and the lack of democracy in the project, but also about the irregular practices of Enagas. The construction of the gas pipeline in this first stretch did not follow the guidelines that were made available in the public project, being much more harmful for the environment, while the authorities turned a blind eye on the issue.

As the European Commission has clearly stated, the aim of the project is reducing the dependency of the European Union on Russian natural gas by creating a new nexus between the extraction fields of Hassi R’mel in Algeria and the Center-European countries (they are already linked through Italy and the Transmed pipeline). Thus, the local conflict against the construction of the pipeline is linked with latent conflicts in Algeria, more specifically in Hassi R’Mel (https://ejatlas.org/conflict/hassi-rmel-gas-field), and in all the fields where the fracking technique is being used (https://ejatlas.org/conflict/resistance-to-fracking-projects-in-algeria).

Moreover, there are other global potential impacts related with the perpetuation of a fossil fuel-based energetic model, such as climate change.



UPDATE JAN 2019: The Midcat pipeline and its French component have been blocked by French and Spanish energy regulators on grounds of lack of necessity and high cost. The decision marks the possible end of the entire ‘MidCat’ endeavour, leaving stranded other sections of the pipeline that are already built. [2-3]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Midcat gas pipeline in Catalunya, Spain
Country:Spain
State or province:Catalunya
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The project consists on: 191 km of new pipeline on the Spanish side of which 87 km were already constructed in 2011-12, 148 km of new pipeline on the French side, 328 km of loops in existing pipelines on the Spanish side, two new compression stations with a total power of 46 MW, and the enlargement of two existing compression stations in 30 MW (European Commission, 2016). The project would dramatically rise the cross-border natural gas transmission capacity between Spain and France that is currently set in 170 GWh/d SP>FR and 165 GWh/d FR>SP to 400 GWh/d SP>FR and 245 GWh/d FR>SP. The Midcat was included in the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list in 2015 as part of the priority corridor called “Bidirectional Flows between Portugal, Spain, France and Germany”, and its commissioning is planned for 2022.

According to the French Commission de Régulation de l’Énergie (CRE) the total cost of the Midcat project will be 3360M€, of which 2000M€ will correspond to the French side. The gas pipeline will be partly financed by the European Union. Public funding will account for 470M€, of which 170M€ correspond to the Spanish side and the rest to the French side. Even if the public financing is notoriously significant, it is a private project that has been assigned amongst a Spanish company, Enagas, and two French companies, GRTGaz and TIGF.

Level of Investment:3,600,000,000.00
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/11/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Enagas from Spain - Promoter, in charge of building the Spanish part
Total Infrastructure Gaz France (TIGF) from France - Promoter, in charge of partially building the French part
GRTgaz from France - Promoter, partially in charge of the French part
Relevant government actors:Spanish government
French government
Portuguese government
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Commission (EC)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ODG - www.odg.cat
ADENC - http://adenc.cat/
ANG - http://www.naturalistesgirona.org/
IAEDEN - http://iaeden.cat/
XSE - http://xse.cat/

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Participation to Toxic tours (Volt), to show participants from many other parts of Catalunya and Spain the lands that would be crossed by the pipeline[1]

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of alternatives:The opposition to the project during the first phase back in 2012 started as a reaction when the construction began. They focused, thus, in minimizing the impacts and supervising the construction process.
Currently, though, an opposition is being organized in the Girona province with the support of some of the organizations involved in the reaction to the 1st phase. The proposal is clear this time: the Midcat gas pipeline should not be built. Instead, they advocate for a change in the energetic model based on energy sovereignty:
http://www.odg.cat/sites/default/files/energy_sovereignty_0.pdf
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The first phase of the project was already carried out in 2012 causing local impacts. Thus, to a certain extent an environmental injustice has already occurred.
Nevertheless, if completion of the project could be avoided it would be a great success, given that we would avoid: local impacts in Northern Catalunya and Southern France, displaced local impacts in the extraction fields of Algeria, and global impacts related to the current energetic model (climate change, ...).
UPDATE JAN 2019: The Midcat pipeline and its French component have been blocked by French and Spanish energy regulators on grounds of lack of necessity and high cost. The decision marks the possible end of the entire ‘MidCat’ endeavour, leaving stranded other sections of the pipeline that are already built. [2-3]

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

COLONIALISME ENERGÈTIC: L'ACAPARAMENT DEL GAS DE LA UE A ARGÈLIA
http://odg.cat/ca/publication/colonialisme-energetic-acaparament-gas-ue-argelia

EL PARTENARIAT DE DEAUVILLE I LA DEPENDÈNCIA D'EUROPA DEL NORD D'ÀFRICA
http://odg.cat/ca/publication/partenariat-deauville-dependencia-europa-nord-africa

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Blog created by people involved in the struggle of the 1st phase of the project with valuable information about the construction process, pictures, and local media reactions.
http://gasoducte.blogspot.se/

La Vanguardia - Ecologistas alertan del impacto del gasoducto MidCat
http://www.lavanguardia.com/local/girona/20160213/302135307827/union-europea-gasoducto-midcat-ecologistas.html

La Fissura - Arriba el MidCat

Les entitats ecologistes alerten de l’impacte que pot tenir el gasoducte a les comarques gironines

PAU SUBIRÓS16 DE FEBRER DE 2016
http://www.lafissura.cat/arriba-el-midcat/

[1] Volt II: una ruta crítica con los macroproyectos energéticos
http://www.eldiario.es/catalunya/Volt-II-critica-macroproyectos-energeticos_0_439906279.html

[2] Naturalistes Girona.

23 de gener 2019

La Plataforma Resposta al Midcat celebra la victòria contra aquest innecessari i costós gasoducte
https://www.naturalistesgirona.org/ca/2-noticies/408-la-plataforma-resposta-al-midcat-celebra-la-victoria-contra-aquest-innecessari-i-costos-gasoducte.html

[3] FoEE - 22 JANUARY 2019

Red card to EU-backed ‘MidCat’ is major victory for campaigners
http://www.foeeurope.org/Climate-incompatible-France-Spain-gas-pipeline-cancelled-220119

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video shot by the organizations involved in the struggle of the 1st phase. Images of the construction site.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSVaQp7_-Yo&t=184s

Other documents

Foto grupal de los participantes del Volt2 (2015) Fuente: http://www.eldiario.es/catalunya/Volt-II-critica-macroproyectos-energeticos_0_439906279.html
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Spain_Midcat_Volt2.jpg

Demonstration in Catalonia Source: http://www.foeeurope.org/Climate-incompatible-France-Spain-gas-pipeline-cancelled-220119
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Spain_Midcat.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Sergio Ruiz Cayuela and Kevin Buckland with support of the ODG (www.odg.cat). [email protected]
Last update24/01/2019

Images

 

Foto grupal de los participantes del Volt2 (2015)

Fuente: http://www.eldiario.es/catalunya/Volt-II-critica-macroproyectos-energeticos_0_439906279.html

Demonstration in Catalonia

Source: http://www.foeeurope.org/Climate-incompatible-France-Spain-gas-pipeline-cancelled-220119