Algeria threatens to cut its gas contract with Spain –

The Algerian gas giant threatened on Wednesday (April 27th) to break a contract to supply gas to Spain if Madrid transferred it to “a third destination”, amid tensions with its regional rival, Morocco.

Algeria’s state-owned energy giant, Sonatrach, supplied more than 40% of Madrid’s natural gas imports in 2021, most of which was supplied directly through the 750-kilometre Medgaz deepwater gas pipeline.

Algeria, Africa’s largest gas exporter, also supplied gas through a second gas pipeline GME (Gaz Maghreb Europe), which links Spain to Algeria via Morocco.

But Algiers shut down supply through the GME in November due to a diplomatic rift with Rabat, depriving Morocco of Algerian gas.

On Wednesday, Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Mohamed Arkab said his Spanish counterpart had informed him that Madrid would “authorize the operation, in reverse flow” of the GME gas pipeline, and that it would start “today”. today or tomorrow,” according to a statement from the Department of Energy. .

He did not mention the country to which the gas would be sent.

However, in February, Spain said it would help Rabat “guarantee its energy security” by allowing it to transport gas through the GME.

Algiers warned that any delivery of “Algerian natural gas delivered to Spain, whose destination is none other than that provided for in the contracts, will be considered as a breach of contractual commitments”.

Doing so “could lead to the termination of the contract between Sonatrach and its Spanish customers”.

Algeria and Morocco have experienced months of tension, in part over Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel in return for Washington’s recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed region of Western Sahara.

Spain, which depends on Algeria for gas supplies, in March broke with its decades-long stance of neutrality and recognized Morocco’s autonomy plan for the territory, a former Spanish colony.

Algeria’s warning comes as Europe seeks to wean itself off Russian energy following its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off all gas supplies to highly dependent Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday, raising the specter of a shortage in the region – and Europe as a whole.

Edward K. Thompson