Morocco Mulls Reversal of Pipeline Flow if Algeria Halts Gas Supply

RABAT (Reuters) — Morocco is discussing with Spain the possibility of reversing the flow of a gas pipeline in case Algeria does not renew a supply deal that expires in Oct. 31, a senior Moroccan official said on Monday.

Algeria has previously hinted that it would not renew the deal to export gas through the 13.5 bcm pipeline that crosses Morocco and that it would expand the Mediterranean Medgaz pipeline, which does not cross its neighbor, to hit 10 bcm capacity by December.

Algerian President Abelmadjid Tebboune said recently, however, that no final decision has been made concerning the Maghreb-Europe pipeline.

Algeria cut diplomatic ties with Morocco in late August, citing "hostile actions" by its neighbour, and last month closed its airspace to all Moroccan planes. Morocco said the cutting of ties was unjustified.

"For Morocco, the pipeline is more of a tool for regional cooperation...we will not let it rust," the senior official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters, confirming local media reports.

He said Morocco was in talks with Spain to use their LNG terminals to channel gas to Morocco using the same pipeline.

"This LNG will not compete with Spanish gas supplies. It will be an additional purchase ordered by Morocco which will pay the cost of the transit through Spanish terminals and the pipeline," he said.

Morocco has also given permits to gas importers in anticipation of Algeria not renewing the pipeline deal, he said. 

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