Morocco makes plans to become LNG importer and fifth Arab nation with FSRU

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Moroccans are hoping to follow the path of Jordan, which in May 2015 became the world's latest LNG importer when it deployed a Floating Storage and Regasification vessel as an import facility.

Morocco is expected to become the fifth Arab-speaking nation to use an FSRU with associated onshore infrastructure to alleviate natural gas supply shortages, according to the plan.

Before Jordan started its imports at the port of Aqaba, Egypt brought into service its first FSRU at the Red Sea port of Ein Sokhna in April 2015.

Previously Kuwait began importing LNG through an FSRU terminal since 2009 and Dubai's FSRU started imports in late 2010.

According to an outline of the tender published by the Office National de l'Electricite et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE) Morocco has plans to import an initial 5 million tonnes per annum of LNG.

The consultants are required to advise on an import terminal and adjacent gas-fired power plant, as well as the construction of a jetty for LNG import carriers, said Casablanca-based ONEE.

Morocco is a net importer of energy, though it produces some amounts of its oil and natural gas, these are not sufficient to cover its needs.

Natural gas production falls well below consumption. Morocco produces around 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, and its demand is 38 Bcf per day.

Morocco currently receives natural gas supplies from the Maghreb-Europe Pipeline which transits the country on its way from Algeria to Spain and Europe.

In lieu of charging the pipeline company transit fees, Morocco instead receives payment in the form of gas supplies.

Morocco's near neighbour Spain has Europe's largest network of LNG import terminals and is also a re-exporter of cargoes.

Recently in Morocco there has been an increased interest in upstream exploration in the country as it is believed to hold shale resources in its Saharan territories and oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean offshore the country's west coast.

Woodside Petroleum, the largest Australian LNG player with two liquefaction plants in operation in its own country, in November 2014 entered into a contract for an exclusive reconnaissance licence with the government of Morocco and the national oil company to explore an offshore block.

The block, known as the Rabat Ultra Deep Offshore area, comprises a total of 36,737 square kilometres with depths ranging from 1,700 metres to 4,400m.