European gas market faces more tensions after outbreak of conflict in Western Sahara
You can sit in a comfortable European home, have organic tea in the evening, and watch dystopian American politics unfold on TV.
Of course, it’s even sadder if the lights and TV go out and the kettle cools down. Thanks in part to European energy geopolitics, this is not a distant risk.
There isn’t much debate about how conflicts in North Africa could reduce Spain’s winter gas supply, but it could put upward pressure on electricity prices in d ‘other parts of Europe. ..
On October 30, Algeria will close its gas pipeline to transport Algerian gas to Morocco, Spain and Portugal. It is part of a long and hot battle between Algeria and Morocco, which seems to have started with independence from France in 1962.
Morocco is angry with Algeria’s support for the Polisario Front. I want independence for Western Sahara. Morocco claims sovereignty over the long contested territory. Relations with Algeria deteriorated this summer.
Tension has reached the European Court of Justice this week Handed over the judicial victory over the Polisario Front. It was decided that the broad economic treaty between the EU and Morocco could not be automatically extended to cover Western Sahara.
Spain is the European country most affected by the CJEU ruling. Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony. Some members of the Polisario have Spanish passports. And in recent decades, Spain’s fishing fleets have depended on Western Sahara (and Moroccan licenses) for up to a third of their catches.
European relations with Morocco go far beyond fish. There are migratory flows, European investments, in particular the automobile construction, sometimes difficult security arrangements, tourism and the supply of Moroccan vegetables to European tables.
France and Spain have special legal ties with Morocco beyond the scope of other EU treaties. Algeria also has a lot to do with Europe, but it’s a bit further. The colonial struggle for independence from France is part of its national identity. The army buys many kits from Russia and China.
Algeria also sells large quantities of gas to Italy, Spain and Portugal. Gas to Italy passes directly through the submarine pipeline. Gas to Spain and Portugal passes through two other submarine pipelines. The first, built between 1996 and 1997, passes through Morocco, which uses part of its gas for its own generator. The second came into service in 2011 and goes directly from Algeria to Spain.
This is where EU-Spain foreign relations become even more problematic, especially in the strained international gas market. Insufficient European energy storage Before winter.
On September 29, the day the CJEU decision on Western Sahara was announced, Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy director, joined. statement reaffirmed his strategic partnership with his Moroccan colleague. They also pledged to “take the necessary measures to ensure a legal framework” for trade relations. He is hostile to Algeria and could strengthen his resolve in a conflict with Morocco.
Needless to say, the next day the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary of Energy landed in Algeria. Among other things, meeting with stakeholders on the imminent extension of 25% of the capacity of the direct Algeria-Spain pipeline. Even with additional gas, Spain will struggle to import gas through LNG terminals this winter.
Spanish consumers are already furious at the high electricity prices. This will make 3 billion euros in Madrid.
When the gas pipeline is closed, Morocco must find a way to do it completely without gas in Algeria, but its energy department is already anticipating this possibility. There is a coal-fired power station that can be used and can be switched to another imported fossil fuel source as a gas generator.
Europeans will hardly understand that Algeria and Morocco constitute this controversy over economic and technical factors. A deep sense of sovereignty, military balance and culture is at work here. It is not easy for the EU to navigate such an environment to secure supply.
European gas market faces more tensions after Western Sahara dispute erupts