Leila Benali, Moroccan Minister of Ecological Transition, has announced the Kingdom's entry into this market for the first time in its history

Marruecos accederá al mercado de gas natural licuado el próximo mes de abril

REUTERS/PHIL NOBLE - Morocco's Energy Minister Leila Benali during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, 4 November 2021.

Morocco's access to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market implies the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The country is already preparing four ports to receive liquefied gas and transport and storage facilities are also being built.

Laila Benali, Moroccan Minister of Ecological Transition, points out that the infrastructure already existing in the country and in Europe will be used. In recent months, the Kingdom has held several talks with Spain to be able to use both its liquefied gas terminals and its regasification units to guarantee its energy security.

Madrid accepted Rabat's request, which will enable it to purchase crude oil on international markets, unload it at a regasification plant on the Spanish mainland and import it through the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (GME), which has been inactive since last November after Algeria shut it down as a result of Morocco's "hostile tactics". 

Mapa que muestra los gasoductos que unen Marruecos y Argelia con España AFP/AFP

The pipeline links Algeria to Spain via Morocco. Its blockage meant the loss of the rights of passage with which it received millions in revenues from gas traffic, and the supply of this resource was endangered. If a bilateral agreement is finally reached, the LNG would arrive in solid form in Spain to be subsequently treated and injected into the pipeline to the African nation.

This entails an additional cost, as importing liquefied gas is much more expensive than importing it through a pipeline. The Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition assures that it will guarantee the neighbouring country's energy solidity as "it should be done with any other partner". 

El petrolero Sun Arrows de gas natural licuado procedente del proyecto Sakhalin-2 en el puerto de Prigorodnoye, Rusia, en el Océano Pacífico PHOTO/AP

For the plan to go ahead, Enagás, Spain's main gas transporter, in which the government has a 5% stake, would need to sign an interconnection agreement with Morocco. Its terminals have a geostrategic position and favour the maritime transport of this resource.

A senior official from the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) argues that "reversing the flow of GME is one solution among other supply alternatives". In this way, it would be possible to supply power plants in the west of the region that run on liquefied natural gas. 

Líneas de transferencia en la terminal de gas natural licuado (GNL)  REUTERS/GARY CAMERON

Morocco is focusing on the construction of the first regasification plant in the port of Mohammedia. The construction plan has already been submitted and aims to install a gas terminal and a floating storage unit in the port city.

The demand for crude oil will reach 3 billion cubic metres at the same time as the territory seeks to decarbonise its economy by 2050. This decarbonisation requires the improvement of the electrical systems used in sectors such as industry and transport.

Planta solar de Ouarzazate, en el centro de Marruecos AP/ABDELJALIL BOUNCHAR

According to several Moroccan media, a series of projects have been launched to add 10GW of wind, solar and hydroelectric capacity in the coming years. They are all part of the roadmap submitted to the UN with which the Alawi country is committed to using greener energy to create a more competitive economy.

One of the objectives of the Moroccan energy plan is to accelerate the development of renewable energies in order to achieve carbon-free electricity. For his part, Bouzakri Razi, director of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Green Economy at the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, stressed the "political will" to participate in the international fight against climate change.

Molinos de viento en Jbel Sendouq, en las afueras de Tánger, Marruecos REUTERS/YOUSSEF BOUDLAL

The green plan seeks to generalise energy efficiency and increase the use of natural resources in all sectors of activity, while at the same time boosting the circular economy and reducing and recycling the waste generated. The aim is to reduce dependence on conventional thermal power plants.

Morocco is also considering strengthening its cooperation with the United Arab Emirates in the area of energy transition. Sultan bin Ahmed al-Jaber, the Emirati Minister of Industry, says that Abu Dhabi is the main investor in the Kingdom and that "the areas of investment cover energy transition, tourism and industry"

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