Tuesday, November 30

European energy crisis: Spain puts pressure on Algeria to guarantee natural gas supply


For the second time in a month, a Spanish minister met with Algerian officials on Wednesday to guarantee the European country’s natural gas supply after Algeria closes a gas pipeline through Morocco this weekend.

Although it is a leader in wind and solar energy, Spain still relies heavily on energy imports and Algeria provides more than a third of its natural gas. Spanish officials are concerned that a shortage of supplies will fuel already skyrocketing energy prices, making electricity bills a major problem for their left-wing coalition government.

The trip of Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, to Algiers came just a month after the country’s Foreign Minister traveled to the Algerian capital to discuss the gas supply that Spain fears could be a collateral victim of Algeria’s diplomatic dispute with Morocco.

After meeting with the Minister of Energy and Mining of Algeria, Mohamed Arkab, Ribera thanked him “for his commitment to ensuring the viability of natural gas transportation and fulfilling the purchase commitments between different Algerian and Spanish companies.”

Algeria has said it will not renew an agreement, which expires on Sunday, that has kept its natural gas flowing through Morocco and into Spain for the past 25 years. The development follows a deterioration in Algerian relations with Morocco centered on the disputed region of Western Sahara, highlighted by the removal of the Algerian ambassador.

The gas pipeline that runs through northwest Africa before crossing the Mediterranean Sea at Zahara de los Atunes, on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar, supplied Spain with just over 10% of all its natural gas in 2020, according to CORES, the public corporation Spanish who watches. on its strategic energy reserves.

The pipeline also supplied Morocco with enough gas to produce 10% of its total electricity, in addition to the 60 million dollars a year (51.7 million euros) it received for crossing its territory.

A second longer gas pipeline from Algeria to Almería on the southeast coast of Spain currently provides 16% of its total natural gas imports.

There are plans to increase the capacity of that gas pipeline from eight to 10 million square meters in the coming months. Still, that won’t fully make up the shortfall, unless ships can bring enough liquefied natural gas to Spain directly from Algeria.

Ribera said her counterpart also agreed to be prepared should Spain ask Algeria to increase the supply of natural gas.

“Algeria, through the Sonatrach company, will fulfill its commitments to Spain, related to the supply of natural gas and is ready to discuss the terms of additional gas deliveries,” Arkab said, according to the official Algerian news agency APS.

Spain’s diplomatic mission comes amid a surge in energy prices across Europe that is hitting the Iberian Peninsula hard and increasing electricity bills for homes and businesses. Ribera, a respected environmental policy maker, was commissioned by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to find a solution.


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