Morocco enters the international market for liquefied natural gas: imminent arrival of the first deliveries

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

If we want to increase the share of renewable energies (RE) in the national energy mix, Morocco needs to multiply combined cycle plants (solar, wind, natural gas), such as the model adopted by the two plants in Ain Beni Mathar and Tahaddart. These, which have been closed since the closure of the GME, contribute up to 10% of the national electricity production.

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

Meanwhile, the problem related to gas transit has been resolved, added the minister, insisting on remembering that Morocco will not be supplied from the Spanish market or from the European market. Spain is only going to make 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 infrastructure construction site (reverse flow, FSRU, etc.) from that of the open negotiations to have access to the molecule.

“On the part of the molecule, Morocco has already entered the international market for liquefied natural gas. The Moroccan teams faced experienced traders and were able to develop negotiating skills that did not exist before. Morocco had never bought LNG”, explained the minister.

“Despite the volumes, there has been a craze for the Moroccan market. We received dozens of responses. These are medium-term contracts”, assured Leila Benali, without elaborating on the details of these contracts (price, quantity, supplier country).

“I am not part of the ad-hoc commission in charge of the gas file,” the minister launched, 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 opened talks with her Spanish and French counterparts, long before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, inviting them to work together to optimize the use of gas pipelines or regasification units that are underused or unused.

At the same time, the ministry considered that energy sovereignty in terms of natural gas necessarily involves the development of a regasification plant installed in the Moroccan maritime space. Hence the implementation, by the National Ports Agency (ANP), of studies prior to the construction of an LNG terminal in the port of Mohammedia, equipped with a unit to convert liquefied gas into natural gas. “We had the option, he continues, between the port of Mohammedia and that of Nador. It was necessary to give the manufacturers the necessary time to do their calculations before choosing the location of the future floating unit”.

“The objective is not only to receive natural gas. We need to build a 21st century infrastructureme century, which will allow us to have competitive energy in the electricity sector, but also for the industrial sector”, Leila Benali specified, while stressing the importance that will be given to energy from hydrogen.

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