AA / Alger / Aksil Ouali
Algeria should not renew the Maghreb-Europe (GME) gas pipeline contract with Morocco. The decision seems to be definitively decided on the Algerian side, five days before the expiration of this lease which will expire on October 31. This is what the Reuters agency reported on Tuesday, citing “three sources with direct knowledge of the case: two government officials and one within Sonatrach”.
The gas pipeline which supplies Spain, and also benefits Morocco, should not be operational from November 1, 2021. And this despite the will of the Moroccan authorities who wished, last summer, to see the contract with Algeria renews. But the diplomatic crisis between the two countries complicated any negotiations. On the Algerian side, we denounce “hostile acts” and “provocations” on the part of the Moroccan Kingdom.
On August 21, it should be remembered that Algerian sources, quoted by the local press, qualified as “lies” the words of Amina Benkhadra, director of the Moroccan Hydrocarbons Office, who reported a few days earlier of the his country’s desire to keep the gas pipeline functional beyond October 31, 2021.
In any case, the option of not renewing this contract had been in the air for several weeks. A few days ago, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, questioned on this subject by journalists, had left the suspense hovering. “We’ll see by then,” he said. But the latest outings by senior Algerian officials, including Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab, suggested that the Algerian authorities’ choice had already been made.
The latter relied on building the capacity of the other gas pipeline that directly links Algeria to Spain, without going through Morocco, in this case the Medgaz, whose capacity, currently estimated at 8 billion cubic meters, will be raised to 10.5 billion before the end of November. The GME, meanwhile, allows the transport of 13.5 billion cubic meters of gas.
Insurance for Spain
According to Reuters, experts do not hide their concerns about the consequences of the shutdown of the GME on the supply of Spain because of “technical problems related to Algerian plans to extend the capacity of the Medgaz gas pipeline”.
But Algerian officials, cited by the agency, are trying to reassure. “A senior Algerian government official says that in the event of a disruption, Algeria would use ships to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Spain,” reports the same source.
He added: “Analysts say this would mean Sonatrach would have to charter more ships, fueling further increases in LNG prices as shipping rates more than doubled from the start of the month.”
As a reminder, the Algerian Minister of Energy had received the Spanish Ambassador to Algeria, Fernando Morgan, and assured him of “Algeria’s total commitment to cover all of Spain’s supplies. in natural gas through Medgaz ”.
And on September 30, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares Bueno, said he was “reassured” after a visit to Algiers where he notably met President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
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