Morocco to buy LNG directly from Spain

Morocco, Spain, Algeria, NATO, Europe, Gas, LNG,

The Government of Morocco after long weigh has decided to initiate the procedures to use Spain as an intermediary to guarantee the supply of natural gas. The African country has not been able to access Algerian gas since last October and since then it has studied the best way to obtain the precious hydrocarbon, which it must now acquire on international markets and, to do so, it will create a trading company in our country.

Will create a marketing company in Spain

Specifically, sources from the energy sector assure Merca2 that the Moroccan National Electricity and Drinking Water Office (ONEE) has contacted the Spanish authorities to create a company that is registered as a gas marketer in Spain. Its mission will be to buy Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), bring it in methane tankers, treat it in one of the regasification plants that our country has and send it to Morocco through the GME pipeline, which will work in the opposite direction. “The ONEE was not very clear about whether it should create a new marketer in Spain or sign an agreement with an existing company, but it has finally decided to start the process to be self-sufficient and not depend on third parties. The threat of the Government of Algeria to Spain seems to have weighed on that decision,” indicate the sources consulted.

Since Spain and Morocco began negotiations to reopen the GME pipeline in the opposite direction, Algeria has expressed its opposition because it feared that the gas that it delivers to our country through Medgaz (and that reaches the coast of Almería) could end up in hands of Mohamed VI’s regime. Especially after an email was leaked from the 3rd Deputy PM of the Spanish Government and Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, in which she anticipated the reopening of the Maghreb gas pipeline in the opposite direction (north south). The red line imposed by Algeria was accompanied by a threat: to cut off the supply through Medgaz if Spain was not able to certify that each cubic meter sent to its southern neighbor came from other countries.

Since then, Ribera has taken advantage of every public intervention to ensure that « not a single molecule of the gas that reaches Morocco can be attributed to gas from Algeria. » Ribera’s strategy – closely followed by the PM, who does not trust his own minister – was to make Spanish infrastructure available in Morocco « in commercial terms », with the « indispensable condition » that Morocco be the one purchase the LNG. « The origin of that gas and the place where it is unloaded will be transparent and public so that we can be sure that the volume, origin and destination complies with that commitment to Algeria, » Ribera said last April at parliamentary HQ.

Buy LNG and treat it in spanish plants

And said and done. Although at first the initial idea was for Enagás technicians to certify that the gas that would travel through the infrastructure of the Maghreb did not come from Algeria, finally the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development has considered it more appropriate that a company from your country, dependent on the ONEE, initiate the procedures to register as a marketer in Spain and thus purchase LNG directly using the regasification infrastructures of our country. This soap opera, propitiated to a great extent by the change of position of the Spanish Government regarding Western Sahara, takes place at a moment in which Algeria has decided to reinforce its alliance with Italy, which will become its main client.

The agreement between Italy and Algeria

The agreement reached between the Algerian President AbdelmadjidTebboune and the Italian PM Mario Draghi will serve to send part of the gas from the HassiR’Mel field to central Europe next winter, leaving Spain in the background. For this reason, as Merca2 advanced exclusively, Blackrock and the rest of the companies that manage the Medgaz gas pipeline have decided to put in a drawer the expansion project that contemplated the construction of a second tube on the seabed to reach the coasts Spanish.

The rapprochement with Morocco is not only part of the strategy of Pedro Sánchez’s cabinet, but is also shared by the main opposition party. A few days ago, the SG of the Popular Party (PP), Alberto NúñezFeijoo, told the Moroccan PM Aziz Akhannouch, that his political party « will strengthen its commitments and ties of neighborliness, reciprocity, honesty and loyalty » with Morocco. It is not in vain that the Spanish strategy with respect to Morocco is marked by the network of NATO alliances and the two major Spanish parties have closed ranks obeying the orders that come from Washington. Spanish intelligence sources assure this newspaper that Sánchez and Feijoo have been promised that our country will play a very important role in creating an energy hub in southern Europe that promotes the development of renewable energies in Morocco. An objective behind which hides a much more important element: the need for the US to close ranks in North Africa in the face of the new international scenario that opens with the war in Ukraine.

The White House presses Europe

Precisely after the Russian military intervention, the White House began to pressure the European authorities to take advantage of the situation and strengthen the role of Morocco, which although it does not belong to NATO, is a country that the US considers vital to reduce China’s influence in the African continent. That is why the Biden Administration invited the country last May to a summit at the German base in Ramstein, which was also attended by other countries that are not part of the Atlantic alliance. “The main objective of the US State Department is to prevent the eternal confrontation between Algeria and Morocco from blowing up interests in the area and for this it has made it clear to both countries that they are condemned to understand each other. Spain and Italy are responsible for lubricating that relationship and the war in Ukraine is an opportunity to do so. The forgotten continent is a great source of natural resources that are now more important than ever”, point out military sources.

The NATO Summit in Madrid

With all these elements on the table, the NATO Summit will be held in Madrid at the end of June, a meeting in which Morocco will also participate, and which the Spanish PM hopes will serve to « give a strong message to the southern part of the Alliance » through the new « security concept » that will come out of this meeting. Sánchez referred to this issue in his recent participation in the Davos Forum, which some have already dubbed the « Madrid Strategic Concept » and which will consist of using immigration, the energy issue and Islamist terrorism to reinforce the role of NATO in the region.

The great stone in the shoe that the Government has in its relationship with Morocco is the sovereignty of Ceuta and Melilla, which the regime of Mohamed VI has not renounced. The intelligence sources consulted assure that after the summer Morocco will resume its offensive to reclaim these cities, even though the Spanish government said last April that the turn with respect to Western Sahara would reduce tension with the southern neighbor in this matter. For now, the truth is that the expected commercial customs are still closed, and this week Sánchez will appear in Lower Chamber to explain the new relationship established with Morocco since last March he sent the famous letter to Mohamed VI.

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