Morocco approaches Spain for gas supplies

With Algeria breaking off relations, gas supply management is in jeopardy following the imminent issuance of the agreement

AFP/ RYAD KRAMDI  -   Algerian soldiers stand guard at the Tiguentourine gas complex in In Amenas, some 1,600 kilometres southeast of the capital

The consequences of Algeria's severing of diplomatic relations with Morocco are already becoming apparent. Last August, after declaring that Morocco was carrying out "hostile actions" against Algeria, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra announced the diplomatic rupture to Morocco's surprise.

This rupture has mainly affected gas supplies from Algiers, after he hinted that Algeria would cut off the pipeline that also supplies gas to Spain. In this context, Morocco is considering reversing the flow of gas if Algeria decides to definitively cut off supplies. This action could occur if Algeria does not renew the gas export agreement before 31 October, something that the Algerian country has already hinted at. 

AFP/FADEL SENNA - Moroccan and Algerian flags in Saidia, on the border between the two countries.

Two days after announcing the rupture of relations, Algeria announced its intention to transport all the gas it supplies to Spain through the Megdaz pipeline, thus ruling out the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline (GME), which runs through Moroccan soil. 

In view of this situation, Morocco is negotiating with Spain on the possibility of reversing the flow. According to official sources told Reuters, 'for Morocco, the pipeline is a tool for regional cooperation (...), we will not let it rust'. At the same time, the source said that negotiations with Spain would be used with the aim of using the liquefied gas terminals to get the gas channelled to Morocco through the same pipeline. 

REUTERS/LAMINE CHIKHI  -  Gas field in Algeria

He added that "it will not compete with the Spanish gas supply. It will be an additional purchase ordered by Morocco, which will pay the cost of transit through Spanish terminals and the pipeline". At the same time, he indicated that Morocco has already given permits to gas importers to prevent the situation from arising in the event that Algeria does not renew the agreement.

On the other hand, the general director of Algeria's state-owned oil and gas company, Sonatrach, reported just a few days ago that the company is complying with its gas contracts. 

PHOTO/REUTERS - The gas pipeline linking Spain, Morocco and Algeria, which was established under an agreement signed between the parties concerned for a period of 25 years, could come to a halt in October.

In an interview with Algerian television, they reiterated the company's commitments on these terms to "such historic clients" as Spain and Italy. 

The 1,400-kilometre-long GME starts in the Algerian field of Hassi R'mel and crosses 540 kilometres of Morocco, crossing Gibraltar via a 45-kilometre underwater section before reaching the mainland.

On the other hand, the 750-kilometre-long Medgaz gas pipeline connects Algeria directly with Almeria. This means of transport has a capacity of 8 billion cubic metres and it was recently announced that it had managed to increase its capacity by 25%.