Spotlight: Morocco takes legal move to stimulate liquefied gas growth

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-16 23:22:34|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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RABAT, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Morocco has elaborated a draft bill with the aim to expand liquified natural gas (LNG) supply and boost gas sector in the north African kingdom.

The draft bill, which was submitted by the government for consultation earlier this week, aims at the establishment of an adequate organization for the natural gas sector and an appropriate tariff system for a natural gas market still embryonic in the country.

The law aims also to give a strong signal incentive to investors, especially foreigners, to develop the infrastructure for transmission and distribution networks that are very underdeveloped today.

Under this draft bill, the country envisages granting concessions private companies after call for competition.

The licensed company will hold a monopoly over the entire Moroccan territory and will provide the gas transmission business.

This draft law comes as Morocco strives to relieve energy dependency and to respond to the country's growing need for electricity in the long run.

Morocco imports over 90 percent of its energy needs whether in the form of coal, oil or electricity, while its needs grow by nearly 6 percent yearly.

Apart from investing in renewable energy to cover 50 percent of its energy needs by 2030, Morocco is planning to increase the share of natural gas in its energy mix.

Morocco aims to set up an integrated "Gas To Power" project, including a multi-billion U.S. dollars worth Jorf Lasfar onshore LNG terminal, near the coastal city of El Jadida.

The site will house storage facilities for at least 5 billion cubic meters of LNG per year, bringing the share of LNG to 13 percent of Morocco's energy mix by 2025.

Recently, British Sound Energy made breakthrough with several exploitable gas discoveries in eastern and northern Morocco.

The company said that the kingdom will become a key player in the global gas map by 2019.

Morocco has also launched a joint venture with Africa's gas giant Nigeria to construct a major gas pipeline linking West African countries.

The Gazoduc pipeline project, which will pass through several West African countries and may stretch to Europe, was finalized during the visit of Morocco's King Mohammed VI to Nigeria in December, 2016.

Given the great opportunities laying ahead in Morocco's LNG sector, major gas companies have shown their interest in taking part in Morocco's gas projects.

Last September, Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Russian companies are interested in Morocco's gas projects, particularly the liquefied gas terminal in Jorf Lasfar and the Moroccan-Nigerian gas pipeline.

The Russian minister revealed that negotiations are underway between Gazprom and Novatek and Morocco to secure LNG supply from Russia.

For its part, Qatar is also well placed to take part in the supply of the Jorf Lasfar gas terminal.

The new draft law on natural gas sector comes to provide the necessary legislative and regulatory framework to ensure the harmonious development of the sector in the country.

The text seeks to regulate and control these activities in terms of safety and environmental protection.

Moreover, a regulatory body under the name of the National Energy Regulatory Authority will be set up to ensure the regulation of the sector.