The Algerian Ministry of Energy and Mines threatened on Wednesday to break the gas contract with Spain. In a press release published late in the afternoon, the minister mentioned a Spanish decision to supply Algerian natural gas to Morocco via the Maghreb-Europe (GME) gas pipeline.
“Any onward transmission of Algerian natural gas delivered to Spain, the destination of which is none other than that provided for in the contracts, will be considered a breach of contractual obligations and could consequently result in a breach of contract binding Sonatrach to its Spanish customers,” said the Algerian Ministry in its document.
According to the same source, Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab “was informed today by electronic message from his Spanish counterpart, Ms. Teresa Ribera, of Spain’s decision to authorize the operation of the Maghreb Europe Gas Pipeline in counterflow (GME)”. The Spanish minister informed her Algerian counterparts that “this operation will take place today or tomorrow”.
Algeria, which has been in a diplomatic conflict with Morocco since the summer of 2021, decided to abandon the GME in November of the same year, preferring to supply Spain through the gas pipeline that connects it directly to the Iberian Peninsula. But the Spanish government’s decision to back Morocco’s plan for Western Sahara autonomy from last March has changed the nature of Algerian-Spanish relations.
The Algerian authorities, through Sonatrach, first expressed their desire to revise the price of gas delivered to Spain upwards. Algiers then attempted to reassure Europe by striking an agreement to increase supplies to Italy via Tunisia. Remember, this is the first time Algeria has threatened to close the floodgates to Spain. During an interview broadcast by Algerian television last Saturday, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune assured that his country would not punish the Spanish people.
“We have to distinguish between the Spanish government and the Spanish state, with which we have very close ties. We demand the application of international law so that relations with Spain can be normalized (…) ‘Algeria will not give up its obligation to supply Spain with gas, under any circumstances’, declared the Algerian head of state.
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