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French gas operator GRTgaz seeks interest in building hydrogen pipeline

PARIS (Reuters) - French gas transmission system operator GRTgaz on Thursday opened a Call for Interest, or invitation to participate, to determine the viability of building a hydrogen transport pipeline linking the French side of the Franco-Spanish pipeline BarMar with a local storage facility.

The BarMar project is set to connect Spain and France by the end of the decade with an undersea pipeline stretching between Barcelona in Spain and Marseille, with the initial entry point in France at Fos-sur-Mer.

The Call for Interest from GRTgaz is for a section of the pipeline stretching from the Fos-sur-Mer port near Marseille and storage capacity close to Manosque, also in southern France.

The invitation to participate aims to confirm interest in this section of the pipeline, and will be split into two phases.

The first, non-binding phase is expected to open on March 10 and is for industry to express interest and to detail the type of infrastructure needed, while the second phase would sell transport capacities and determine investments.

Technical studies are expected to follow the confirmation of market interests and will detail the route, project planning, environmental impact and technical solutions.

"This new phase of the project is the last step before offering the market transport capacity in the Fos-sur-Mer area," CEO of GRTgaz Thierry Trouvé said.

(Reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by Bernadette Baum)