Morocco and Spain in power deal

Apr 28, 1998 02:00 AM

Morocco and Spain have signed a memorandum over electricity interconnection worth $ 500 million over 5 years.
The agreement will help the state-run Office National D'Electricite (ONE) purchase cheap electricity and sell some on the Spanish market.
Driss Benhima, former energy minister and current chairman of the ONE, told that " after more than 5 months of tough negotiations, Spain finally accepted to sign an electricity interconnection memorandum worth $ 500 mm investment."
The memorandum was signed on the occasion of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's visit to Rabat.

An initial interconnection accord was signed in early 1997 between Madrid and Rabat but "its implementation was delayed by several obstacles, including non-satisfactory conditions imposed on Morocco," he said.
With the Rabat memorandum, " ONE can import up to 90 MW of power from Spain at an acceptable price and can operate on the Spanish electricity market, if necessary," Benhima said.
In a move of goodwill "for a better co-operation and understanding" between the two neighbouring countries over the Straits of Gibraltar, Morocco offered to Spanish electricity firm Endesa to take "an important stake in the capital of Tahadart power station project...The project is worth $ 400 mm," he said.
Tahadart is expected to be built in the northern province of Tangier on a section of the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline transporting around 9 bn cmpy of gas from Algeria to Spain.
" We agreed...that Endesa will participate in the Tahadart equity capital with ONE and EDF," Benhima said. Morocco's ONE and French firm Electricite de France (EDF) are among Tahadart's shareholders.
"A tender will be issued in July to select a group of companies to be in charge of the construction of the Tahadart plant," he said.
The 470 MW Tahadart plant, which will consume an estimated 500 mm cm of Algerian gas per year, is expected to be operational by the year 2003.
With Tahadart and other ongoing power projects, Moroccowill ensure "electricity self-sufficiency" for nearly a decade and will offer local industry and foreign investors "a power at a cheap cost and with competitive prices with those on the European market," Benhima said.
He said the 50 MW wind-powered station in Koudia al-Beida, located in the Mediterranean province of Tetouan, is also expected to be built by the end of 1999.
"A financial closing tender for the 50 MW station launched by a group of foreign companies and aimed to raise $ 60 mm on the international market, was set for end May 1998," he said.

The Casablanca-based ONE, which controls Morocco's power output and transport, forecasts that the nation's power output will rise to 11.7 bn kWh by the end of 1998, up around 6.4 % over the previous year. Its turnover is expected to rise 7 % to 10.7 bn Dirhams ($ 1.1 bn) in 1998, compared with 1997 levels, Benhima said.
ONE expects that by the year 2003, Morocco's 28 million inhabitants, including peasants in the remote villages, will have accessto cheap power, so that total electricity coverage will stand at 70 %, up from less than 50 % at present.
It said that 40 % of the country's electricity is produced by a private group at Jorf Lasfar, on the Atlantic coast, 280 km south of Rabat.

Source: not available
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