On Sunday 31 October the Algerian government announced the cessation of commercial relations between Algeria and Morocco, effectively ending the Algeria-Spain-Morocco pipeline agreement known as the Europe-Maghreb pipeline.
The Algerian presidency in a public statement declared that it was no longer willing to extend the contract of the Europe-Maghreb pipeline.
The decision to terminate gas supplies to the Kingdom of Morocco was announced at the last minute without notice and without consultation. Analysts say technical issues relating to Algeria’s plans to expand the capacity of the Medgaz pipeline could escalate the energy crisis in Spain at a time of soaring gas bills across Europe.
Spain’s gas system operator, Enagas (ENAG.MC), has sold extra space for liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries this winter in a bid to stabilise supply as soaring global demand has pushed up prices. LNG prices have been driven up in recent months due to structural shortages in Europe and expectations of a cold winter and high demand. Increase in chartering ships to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Spain would only fuel further LNG price rises due to spiralling shipping rates.
The cynical manipulation of supplies by Algeria amounts to thinly disguised energy blackmail for Europe, when winter is approaching and gas prices are rising sharply. Algeria is Spain’s largest gas supplier, covering almost half of its gas demand through the Europe-Maghreb pipeline.
After rejecting UN Resolution 2602 adopted by the Security Council last Friday 30th October, which clearly calls for all the parties to be on board in the negotiations over the Sahara, Algeria continues its escalation in its neighbourhood by cutting off the gas supply from the Europe-Maghreb pipeline at the onset of winter.
Algeria has rejected the Security Committee’s calls for the registration of populations, and refuses to engage in roundtable discussions (as defined by the international community), preferring to exacerbate this conflict, and to prolong it thereby causing economic damage and destabilisation in the region. At a time when the rest of the world is working towards renewables and moving away from fossil fuels, Algeria is seeking to weaponise their fossil resources.