Tough winter looms for Spain as key energy supply cut

energy supply cut

"Gas pipes" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by beeveephoto

Orders are at zero for the main import line in November and other supplies are uncertain as energy supply cut

Spain’s main natural gas import line is set to stop supplying the country from November, speeding up the start of a potential issue with energy supply. There have been zero orders placed for natural gas capacity in the process known as ‘nominations’, for the Maghreb-Europe pipeline which delivers Algerian gas via Morocco. This energy supply cut is according to data published by network operator Enagas SA. 

Enagas, along with Spanish policymakers, have been trying to find an alternative source of gas due to a diplomatic disagreement between Morocco and Algeria. Due to the fallout of the fight, the North Africa nations have not renewed the operation licencing for the pipeline. It is due to run out on October 31. 

As the winter months quickly advance and with a wider energy crisis already in full flow, Spain’s energy industry could be left very vulnerable over the next few months. Algeria is the biggest supplier to Spain currently with its pipeline and liquified gas covering almost half of demand in the first six months of 2021. 

The Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares travelled to Algeria in September to try and iron out a deal. There is another pipeline Algeria could use to supply Spain and honour other export commitments during winter, named Medgaz, according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES). This alternate pipeline terminates in Almeria. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has made a promise to supply Spain with liquified gas cargo if there can be no agreement reached on the pipeline. 

The capacity that can flow through Medgaz is set to increase before the end of the year, but Johnathan Stern, a research fellow at OIES, is unsure whether they will be able to put Spain’s supply in that load. “They say they can — and theoretically they should be able to — but we know how things that ‘should’ be possible turn out to be more complicated than was foreseen,” he said.

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Written by

Claire Gordon