Algiers – Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Thursday that he had received assurances over gas supplies from Algeria, amid fears a crucial pipeline via Morocco could be shut.
Algeria “has always been a trustworthy partner that has honoured its engagements and I was reassured today that energy supplies would continue,” he said at a press conference after meeting senior officials in Algiers.
“Algeria has always been a first class energy partner for Spain.”
The Spanish diplomat was visiting Algiers a month before a 25-year deal to pump Algerian gas to Spain via Morocco is set to expire, with the two North African countries mired in their worst crisis in years.
Algeria, Africa’s biggest natural gas exporter, has been using the Gaz-Maghreb-Europe (GME) pipeline since 1996 to deliver several billion cubic metres (bcm) per year to Spain and Portugal.
But the GME contract ends at the end of October, just over two months after Algiers severed diplomatic ties with Rabat over “hostile actions”. Morocco has dismissed the claims.
Shortly after, Algerian Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab told Spanish ambassador Fernando Moran that Algeria was ready to deliver all its Spain-bound gas exports via an alternative undersea pipeline, bypassing Morocco.
Experts say the Medgaz pipeline does not have enough capacity to make up the shortfall.
Maghreb geopolitics expert Geoff Porter told AFP that “a deal to continue the GME agreement before October 31 is very unlikely”.
“In light of the lack of diplomatic channels between Rabat and Algiers, it’s difficult to see any pathway for negotiations,” he said.
The latest crisis follows months of tensions, partly over Morocco’s normalisation of ties with Israel in exchange for Washington recognising Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Algiers, which has hosted the Polisario independence movement and supported the Palestinian cause, in August accused its neighbour of complicity in deadly forest fires, backing separatists in the Kabylie region and using Pegasus spyware against Algerian officials.
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