Morocco has already begun to receive gas from Spain through the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline, which had been inactive since November 1 at the initiative of the Algerian government in retaliation for Rabat’s “hostile tactics”. The gas is purchased by Morocco from a foreign supplier in liquefied form and transferred by ship to a Spanish plant, where it is regasified to send it through the tube to the Maghreb country.
A certification procedure guarantees that this gas is not of Algerian origin, since Algeria has warned Spain that if it sends part of the gas it sells to Morocco, it could break the supply contract. The interconnection operates with the technical rules of the EU, the same as the interconnections with Portugal and France.
The shipment of gas to Morocco, which began this Tuesday, is part of the agreements for the normalization of relations between Rabat and Madrid disclosed in March. As a new gesture of rapprochement, the Moroccan Minister of Ecological Transition, Leila Benali, announced in February that her country was trying to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) to make it arrive, already in a gaseous state, through the tube that connects both countries.
The minister declared that Morocco had asked Spain for help to guarantee its “energy security” and Spain had responded positively to the request. “Morocco will be able to purchase liquefied natural gas on international markets, unload it at a regasification plant in Spain and use the Maghreb gas pipeline to send it to its territory,” explained Benali.
To ensure that the gas does not come from Algeria, Enagás, as technical manager of the gas system, checks the origin of the methane tanker with gas purchased by Morocco and, after unloading, issues a certificate with the pertinent data (reference of the ship, origin, marketer, discharged volume, etc. The gas is incorporated into the gas system and, daily, the existence of sufficient hydrocarbon in the system is certified to meet the nominations made in Tarifa, origin of the Maghreb gas pipeline, preventing gas from being exported not downloaded for that purpose.
Sending the gas through the gas pipeline does not entail any technical difficulty and the pipeline, despite not having been used for three months, is in a perfect state of conservation. But it does entail an additional cost for Morocco: importing liquefied gas is much more expensive than doing it by pipeline, as it used to do until Algeria turned off the tap.
Compared to the six operational regasification plants in Spain —and one more, in Gijón, in a state of hibernation—, Morocco does not have any. Since Algeria deprived Morocco in November of the gas it received through the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline, Rabat has proposed to build a portable regasification plant in the port of Mohamedía, near Casablanca. But while he arrives at his destination, he needs to supply the energy that no longer reaches him from Algeria. And Spain is one of the few alternatives available.