Pedro Sánchez saw in the energy crisis a golden opportunity for Spain to be the great distributor of energy to Europe. With the war in Ukraine and the sanctions planned by Brussels to turn off the tap for Russia so as not to depend on Putin’s gas or oil, Moncloa has accelerated its project of offering itself to third countries and be your supplier thank you at the gas interconnections of the Spanish system with Africa.
Thus, with the shortage of gas due to dependence on Russia, Pedro Sánchez, as this newspaper reports, wanted to gain a share within the European Union with the rescue of the Midcat project, a desire that Brussels reversed at many times. The Chief Executive considered that this was a golden opportunity to take a step forward in the European Union.
To be able to provide infrastructure and energy in years as crucial as those to come would have earned it an indisputable political victory,” underline sources from the energy sector. A project that has come to confront the leader of the Executive with the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, since the latter wants to put this raw material aside in her fight against fossil fuels.
But with the historic turning point regarding the Sahara, Pedro Sánchez’s desire faded and Italy took advantage of Algeria’s severance of relations with Spain and being the transalpine nation that takes the lead in shipments of gas to the rest of Europe.
This change was staged by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. In a meeting held on Monday, the European country obtained three times more gas than Spain and will be its main exporter.
Thus, Rome will receive about 30,000 million cubic meters for the gas pipeline that connects Italy to Algeria compared to the 10,000 of the Spanish infrastructure. In total, the agreement will mean fattening its current exports by 50% more, having the capacity to supply other regions of Central Europe, which will need it in the face of the planned blockade against Russia.
Spain, besides the fact that Italy has overtaken it on the right in its attempt to be the reference gas supplier of countries like Germany, faces another big problem: that of the price.
The president of the Algerian public group Sonatrach, Touffik Hakkar, announced that his country is considering an increase in the price of the gas it sells to Spain, contrary to what they have decided for the rest of European buyers of this fuel. The government didn’t take a single minute to confirm this news and Teresa Ribera took it for granted in an interview with AND P which should be the case.
But these negotiations do not depend on the government, but they influence the relations between the countries. During months Sonatrach and Naturgy, owner of the gas pipeline linking Algeria to Spain, are negotiating a revision of the price of imported natural gas. “In this type of sudden change in the markets, it is normal for the price of raw materials to be renegotiated,” explain sources familiar with the negotiations.
According to the same voices, they hope that “in the coming weeks a beneficial agreement will be found for both parties”, but they regret that “the new geopolitical panorama has changed radically”. “Everything influences,” they argue when asked about relations between Moncloa and Rabat.
On the other hand, the sources close to the negotiations between Naturgy and Sonatrach underline that, although “there is a rarefied context” due to the change of vision concerning the Sahara by Moncloa, they allude to the “reliability of Algeria “. “For several decades, they have shown be serious and reliable partners so there is no reason to be suspicious. »
New gas partner
While relations with Algiers have become strained, Spain has been looking for other alternatives for two months to have enough gas in storage. And for this, it has resorted to LNG carriers that come from the United States, thus increasing its costs by up to 50%.
According to figures provided by the Strategic Reserves of Petroleum Products Corporation (Cores), imports in February from the United States increased by 474%, a figure which, according to the sources of the energy sector consulted, will continue to increase because Morocco and the United States are strategic partners. With this increase, the gas that comes from North America already represents 33% of our reserves, while the raw material from Algeria has been reduced to 23%.