Morocco enters the international LNG market: the first deliveries are imminent

Consultations recently held by Morocco to secure its natural gas supply were conclusive, the Energy Transition Minister announced during a press conference in Rabat on Friday, April 15, 2022.

For Leila Benali, the date of October 31, 2021, which corresponds to the interruption of Algerian gas supplies via the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (GME), is seen as an “opportunity” to lay the foundations for a new roadmap for the development of natural gas in Morocco.

If we want to increase the share of renewable energy (RE) in the national energy mix, Morocco must multiply combined cycle power plants (solar, wind, natural gas), like the model of the two power plants of Ain Beni Mathar and Tahadart. These, which have been shut down since the GME closed, contribute up to 10% of national electricity generation.

Since last November, Morocco has started consultations, either with supplier countries or with portfolio managers, to gain access to the international market and secure the Kingdom’s natural gas supply, said Leila Benali.

In the meantime, the problem related to gas transit has been solved, the minister added, recalling that Morocco is not supplied by either the Spanish or the European market. Spain is currently making its infrastructure available to Morocco (Spanish section of the GME, regasification units) to transport the gas to Morocco by reversing the flows of the GME.

In managing this file, the Moroccan authorities insisted on separating the construction site of the infrastructures (reverse flow, FSRU, etc.) from the construction site of the open negotiations for access to the molecule.

“On the molecular side, Morocco has already entered the international LNG market. The Moroccan teams faced experienced traders and were able to develop a negotiating capacity that was not there before. Morocco has never bought LNG,” the minister explained.

“Despite the volumes, there was an enthusiasm for the Moroccan market. We received dozens of replies. These are medium-term contracts,” assured Leila Benali, without going into the details of these contracts (price, quantity, country of delivery).

“I am not part of the ad hoc commission responsible for the gas dossier,” said the minister, adding that the announcement of the date of the first deliveries is expected in the coming days.

Regarding the infrastructure that will serve as transit for gas destined for Morocco, Leila Benali claims to have started talks with her Spanish and French colleagues well before the start of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, inviting them to work together to exploit it to optimize gas pipelines or regasification units that are either not used or not used.

At the same time, the ministry considered that energy sovereignty over natural gas imperatively requires the development of a regasification plant installed in the Moroccan sea. Therefore, preliminary studies have been launched by the National Ports Agency (ANP) for the construction of an LNG terminal in the port of Mohammedia, equipped with a unit for converting LPG into natural gas. “We had a choice, she continues, between the port of Mohammedia and that of Nador. It was necessary to give the manufacturers the necessary time for their calculations before choosing the location of the future floating unit.”

“The goal is not just to get natural gas. We need to build 21st century infrastructureand Century that will allow us to have competitive energy in the electricity sector but also in the industrial sector,” specified Leila Benali, without forgetting to emphasize the importance attached to energy from hydrogen.

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