The special envoy of the Algerian presidency for the question of Western Sahara and the Maghreb countries, Amar Belani, blamed Morocco for the closure of the Maghreb Europe Gas Pipeline (GME), which today stopped sending gas to Spain and Portugal for the first time since its inauguration 25 years ago.
In Rabat, Morocco's National Hydrocarbons Office and the National Electricity and Drinking Water Office today considered that Algeria's decision to close the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (GME) will have only "a negligible impact" on its national electricity system.
In an interview granted to the local digital newspaper "Tout sur L'Algerie", the former Algerian ambassador in Brussels and man of confidence of the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, hinted that the decision is final as Algeria is not in the habit of going back on its decisions, as evidenced by the land border, closed in 1994.
"This pipeline was a bet on the future. A pledge of our sincere commitment carried by the aspirations of the peoples of the Maghreb. It was the tangible expression of our deep conviction about the importance of regional integration and the added value of infrastructures carried out from the Maghreb perspective," he explained.
Following this argument, the diplomat underlined that Rabat, instead of betting on the construction of the Maghreb, preferred to sink it and try to link up with the European Union.
"Unfortunately, Morocco has not lived up to the historical and strategic ambition of the grandiose project of the great Maghreb that it took hostage and then sank out of spite in relation to the question of Western Sahara, of which it illegally occupies the territory," he denounced.
No turning back
The Moroccan media "instead of lamenting the loss of this prodigious manna which the kingdom has taken advantage of for 25 years while actively conspiring against the unity and integrity of our country (insists on looking like a victim). He must understand, once and for all, that the new Algeria will no longer be fooled. Hostile actions will have a price, even if the followers of subversion, manipulation and fake news do not like it", he concluded.
The decision to break all relations between Sonatrach and the Moroccan Office of Electricity and Water is also a heavy blow to the Moroccan economy, which loses some 200 million dollars a year, which it collected as rights of way, in addition to the millions of cubic meters of gas with which it produced 10% of its electricity.
Algeria has given guarantees to Spain that it will maintain the contracts already signed and will continue with the supply through the Medgaz pipeline, which links the two countries directly through the Mediterranean, and through methane tankers.
Morocco: closure of gas pipeline with Algeria has "negligible impact".
Morocco's National Hydrocarbons Office and the National Electricity and Drinking Water Office today considered that Algeria's decision to close the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (GME) will immediately have only "a negligible impact" on its national electricity system.
This is Morocco's first official reaction to the Algerian decision not to renew the contract, which expires today, of this pipeline that has been supplying natural gas to Spain and Portugal via Morocco for 25 years.
"Given the nature of Morocco's neighborhood, and in anticipation of this decision, the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the continuity of the country's electricity supply," the two state agencies said, without giving further details.
The two offices added, in a brief joint communiqué reported by the official MAP agency, that other "sustainable alternatives" are also being studied in the medium and long term.
Algerian President Abdelmedjid Tebboune confirmed today the closure of the GME pipeline, despite Spain's efforts in recent days to keep this strategic infrastructure in operation.
Algeria assured that it will supply Spain with all the agreed natural gas through the Medgaz pipeline (which directly connects Algeria with Spain) and complement this supply through liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The GME pipeline had an annual supply capacity of more than 10 billion cubic meters, of which Morocco charged a variable fee of 600 million cubic meters plus a royalty for the rights of passage of the pipeline through its territory.
With Algerian gas, the Maghreb country supplied the two power stations of Tahaddart (in Tangier) and Ain Beni Mathar (in the eastern region of Oujda), with which it produces 12% of its electricity.
The closure of GME is one of the consequences of the current diplomatic tension between Morocco and Algeria following the rupture of relations between the two neighboring countries last August, but it also comes in the midst of a price crisis on the energy market.
Algerian president confirms the closure of the pipeline and the end of the contract
The President of Algeria, Abdelmedjid Tebboune, confirmed the closure of the Maghreb Europe Gas Pipeline (GME), which supplied Spain and Portugal through Morocco, and the non-renewal of the contract signed with the Moroccan kingdom, which expired this Sunday.
Although the president had already announced that he would abandon the supply through this channel after 25 years of commercial relations with the Iberian peninsula, he had not revealed until now what would be the fate of the contract signed with Morocco, a country with which Algeria broke off diplomatic relations last August.
In a brief statement published by the Algerian presidency through its official page on the social network Facebook, it explained that the decision is due to the "aggressive practices" of the neighboring country, which Algeria considers one of the hotbeds of instability in North Africa and the Sahel, the border that most worries Europe.
"The President of the Republic received today a report on the contract linking the national company Sonatrach to the Moroccan Office of Electricity and Water, dated July 31, 2011 and expiring today, October 31, 2021, at midnight," the note explained.
"In light of the aggressive practices of the Kingdom of Morocco towards Algeria, which affect national unity, and after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Energy and Mines, the President of the Republic ordered the national company Sonatrach to cease the commercial relationship with the Moroccan company and not to renew the contract," it added without further detail.
In this context of instability, Algeria assured Spain this week that it will fulfill "the signed contracts" and will continue the gas supply by two means: increasing the capacity of the other pipeline linking the two countries through the Mediterranean (Medgaz) and compensating the rest with methane tankers, built to transport liquefied gas (LNG).
An option, that of LNG, which could lead to an increase in price, as shipping rates on ships are higher, something that could have an impact on Spanish households already facing rising electricity, gas and fuel prices.
Not so much during this winter, when supply is guaranteed, but in the future, as Algeria has insisted that it will honor the "agreements already signed", without alluding to the following ones.