Paranoia that Emiratis will divert Algerian gas to Morocco


Published on Thursday 25 April 2024 Back to articles

Medgaz (red), and the Gazoduc Maghreb Europe (blue) which Algeira closed in Octboer 2021

Bilateral relations between Morocco and Algeria have been very poor in recent years. While the issue of Morocco’s occupation of the disputed Western Sahara has been the central issue for decades, both sides rarely miss an opportunity to damage, or just insult one another, if they can. Morocco’s star has been in the ascendent for some time and it is winning many of the diplomatic battles. The result is that Algeria’s thin-skinned and paranoid regime believes that Rabat — and its Emirati allies — are determined to weaken it. It is therefore seething about the possible international implications of a planned takeover and, in particular, the possibility that Algerian gas could be diverted to Morocco. 

The Abu Dhabi state-owned TAQA is planning to make a bid for Spain’s Naturgy which is currently one of Algeria largest clients taking 5 BCM of gas per year. Particularly worrying for Algiers is that Naturgy’s 49% ownership of the strategically vital Medgaz pipeline — which exports gas from Beni Saf in western Algeria to Almeria in southern Spain — would fall into Emirati hands. This, however, is very unlikely because the Spanish government will almost certainly ensure that the current agreement which bans such a diversion is honoured. 

Some Algerian commentators and analysts see TAQA’s attempts to buy all of Naturgy’s shares as a ‘scandalous’ and ‘hostile’ manoeuvre by Morocco’s Emirati allies. These fears have been ramped up by Spanish media reports. The Spanish-language El Confidential digital newspaper quoted sources it said were ‘connected with the file’ stating that the Moncloa Palace — i.e. the Spanish government — had been informed that the operation was important for Morocco, as part of its quest to obtain Algerian gas by any means and at any price. 

It has faced difficulties in generating electricity amidst a shortage of LNG supplies and high gas prices since October 2021 when Algeria shut down the Gazoduc Maghreb Europe (GME) pipeline, which took gas from the Hassi R’Mel gas field to Cordoba in Spain via Morocco which had a gas offtake agreement. The concern is that gas supplied to Spain via the Medgaz pipeline could be sold by the Emiratis to Morocco via the empty GME. 

Ironically, Algeria’s closure of the GME has accelerated Morocco’s plans to restructure its energy base towards renewable energies. Gas is a transition energy which will help the country reduce its carbon footprint and boost its industry’s competitiveness. In addition to the proposed regasification units in Nador port, Morocco is reportedly considering adding two plants on the Atlantic to bolster its energy security.

The UAE is also helping Morocco in several other ways. It has agreed to major investments in the renewable energies. TAQA is reportedly already the Kingdom’s largest foreign energy investor and produces 38% of its electricity and has very ambitious plans for the coming years.

This excerpt is taken from Morocco Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Morocco. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The April 2024 issue of Morocco Focus also includes the following:

Foreign Relations

  • Flurry of French ministerial visits…
  • Morocco is excluded from Maghreb meeting
  • A row with Algeria erupts over football shirts…


  • House speaker Rachid Talbi Alami is re-elected…


  • OCP launches roadshow for US$2 billion bond…

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