EU post-Covid funds could finance dozens of natural gas projects

Report finds terminals and pipelines may be paid for by pandemic recovery pot in wake of war in Ukraine

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European Union countries may spend almost one third of post-Covid recovery funds on energy projects, including at least 41 liquefied natural gas (LNG) or pipeline developments.

The European Parliament and Council in December granted approval for the bloc’s 27 members to use up to €225 billion ($240 billion) in subsidised loans for energy investment — a sum that was earmarked initially for economic recovery after the pandemic.

An Investigate Europe probe has found that about 30 per cent of the funds, or €67.5 billion, may be allowed to finance urgent energy projects.

The investigative website "identified plans for at least 41 liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal or gas pipeline developments, many of which could now partly be funded with the diverted Covid money”.

The report quoted the Global Energy Monitor database, which has found that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, European countries have announced plans for at least 34 LNG developments and seven gas pipeline projects.

NGOs Climate Action Europe (Can) and Food & Water Action Europe also found at least 34 LNG projects could receive subsidised European loans.

Investigate Europe said the two NGOs calculated the operational costs of each LNG terminal or pipelines but did not list them all. For example, the Eastmed pipeline would cost €90 million per year.

A high concentration of the projects are in Germany, which is involved in five fixed terminals and six floating terminals. A German government representative said the construction period would last until 2038 with an estimated cost of €9.7 billion.

A European Commission representative told The National they were unable to confirm the figures because Brussels was still waiting for European governments to submit their energy plans, which must include investment in reforms to support a transition to greener energy.

The decision to allocate €225 billion for energy is part of the commission’s RePower EU Plan, which was presented in May to help countries decouple from Russian fossil fuel imports after the invasion of Ukraine in February.

The RePower legislation has yet to be approved by the European Parliament.

Updated: January 09, 2023, 2:50 PM