Spain to open idle liquid gas facility as European storage base

(Corrects to show storage capacity 300,000 cubic metres and processing capacity roughly 10 billion cubic metres (not storage capacity roughly 10 billion cubic metres), paragraph 5)

By Isla Binnie

MADRID, April 8 (Reuters) - Spain plans to open a never-before-used liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on its northern coast and dedicate it to receiving and re-exporting fuel to other European countries struggling to break their dependence on gas piped from Russia.

Energy and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera told online newspaper El Diario that the El Musel plant would not be connected to the Spanish gas grid but would be used "to give more flexibility to the system".

Russia's invasion of Ukraine - and subsequent demand to be paid in roubles for its gas, which covers 40% of Europe's needs - has sent the European Union searching for other ways to power its industries and households.

One alternative to gas pumped through pipelines is LNG, which is more expensive and sold on competitive international markets.

El Musel has the capacity to store 300,000 cubic metres of chilled, concentrated gas, and could process roughly 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas that can be used by industry and households every year, Enagas said.

Total Russian supplies to Europe last year were around 155 bcm, a figure Brussels wants to slash by two thirds this year.

The EU has agreed to jointly purchase gas and the United States has promised to increase LNG exports, but major producer Qatar has warned that no single country can replace Russian supplies.

The Spanish project is the latest of several - the Netherlands is looking at building more import facilities, and Germany has revived three LNG projects since the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Siberia was abandoned.

Enagas ENAG.MC will send a proposal to the market regulator in the next few days, a spokesperson said.

This would allow the plant, originally intended to feed generation facilities that were never built, to start operating around the end of this year at the earliest, El Diario said.

Spain has six functioning LNG terminals, but has limited pipeline capacity to pump it north to the continent's major consumers. National oil and gas agency CORES said on Friday it had in February registered the first delivery of LNG to Britain from Spain since 2010.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by David Holmes

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