Morocco announced the reactivation of two power plants that had been idle for nine months due to the closure of the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (GME), but which, thanks to the new gas exploitation formula between Rabat and Spain, have now reopened their doors.
The announcement of the reopening of the Ain Beni Mathar and Tahaddart plants was made by the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water together with the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, in what is great news for the Kingdom's energy sector.
"Morocco guarantees its natural gas supplies through liquefied gas purchase contracts on international markets and through the use of the gas infrastructures of Spanish operators and the GME," reads the communiqué published to announce it.
This situation is the result of what happened last November, when the escalation of tension between Morocco and Algeria led to the Algerian government's refusal to renew the contract to operate the GME, through which gas produced in Algeria was transported to Spain via Morocco.
"Taking into account the aggressive practices of the Kingdom of Morocco towards Algeria (...), the President of the Republic (Abdelmadjid Tebboune) ordered the national company Sonatrach to cease commercial relations with the Moroccan company and not to renew the contract," the Algerian presidency said in a statement.
The reopening of both plants will contribute to an increase of around 10% in Moroccan electricity production, which, together with the new exploitation formula in which Spain regasifies the liquid gas that Morocco obtains on foreign markets, increases Morocco's energy potential enormously.
After the breakdown of relations between Morocco and Algeria, the Kingdom sought different options to ensure the necessary gas supply, something that Leila Benali, Moroccan Minister of Ecological Transition, expressed when she said that Morocco had asked Spain for help to guarantee its "energy security".
"Morocco will be able to purchase liquefied natural gas on international markets, unload at a regasification plant in Spain and use the Maghreb pipeline to send it to its territory," she added.
These gas shipments are already taking place, according to sources from the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition, which has stressed that the origin of the gas is not Algerian.
This situation further complicates relations between Spain and Algeria, since Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish President of the Government, publicly defended the autonomy of the Sahara, which has been seriously damaged.
In that letter, Sánchez acknowledged that the Moroccan proposal for Saharan autonomy was the "most serious, realistic and credible" way to resolve the conflict. These words greatly damaged relations with Algeria and led to a temporary blockade of Spain.
This escalation of tensions had been kept at a low level, but after the announcement of the use of the GME to send regasified gas from Spanish territory to Morocco, Algeria, which feels betrayed, may break off relations with Spain altogether.
"What hurts the Algerians the most is that once the Spanish government obtained the gas guarantees, it turned its back on them and went to negotiate with Morocco over the Sahara. That's where the real betrayal is," said Yahia Zoubir, an analyst with Algerian roots who is well connected to the political and military powers that rule in Algiers.
Spain has already sought and found new ways of energy supply and development, and one of its major partners in this new struggle seems to be Morocco, which is emerging as a Spanish ally in the face of Algeria's difficulties and refusals.