Spain has capacity to become gas hub in Europe, PM Sanchez says

NATO Summit in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain has the capacity to become a gas hub for Europe to help support regional efforts to curb dependence on Russian gas, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told a news conference with his Polish counterpart on Wednesday.

"Spain is prepared to increase its solidarity measures," Sanchez said, adding that 20% of its imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was re-exported to other EU countries in June.

The war in Ukraine has put into question Europe's energy dependence on Russia. Moscow has reduced gas supplies to the continent, blaming the disruption on sanctions imposed in retaliation for the war and delays in returning a repaired turbine.

Sanchez said Spain would do what it could to prevent Europe becoming an "energy hostage" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This week, energy ministers agreed in Brussels that all EU countries should voluntarily reduce gas use by 15% in a bid to save up supplies for winter.

Those with limited ability to export gas to EU neighbours can request a lower target, and a draft document seen by Reuters showed countries like Spain could offer a 7% reduction instead if they can show they have sent on most of the gas they can to EU neighbours.

Sanchez said his government was now working with the private sector and the Spanish congress on a contingency energy saving plan to meet the new target.

(Reporting by Christina Thykjaer and Inti Landauro; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)