ALGIERS/BERLIN (Own report) – In its search for alternatives to Russian oil and gas supplies, Germany has entered an “energy partnership” with Algeria. Until now, Germany has hardly tapped that country’s resources, which have great potential. Algeria is the world’s sixth largest natural gas exporter and a significant oil producer. The development of new sources is urgent. In light of the West’s policy of escalation in regards to Moscow, Germany would like to become less dependent on Russian energy resources. At the same time, the Libyan civil war threatens to cut off completely one of Germany’s most important sources of oil. Because of the nuclear dispute with Iran, oil and gas imports from that country are not yet feasible. The West’s aggressions and their repercussions are making energy procurement increasingly difficult. The new energy partnership with Algeria, which should help relieve this bottleneck, also offers the beleaguered German solar energy sector the possibility to gain ground on their Chinese rivals. German mechanical engineering and construction can expect supplementary profits.
Oil and Gas
Algeria is the third North African country – after Tunisia and Morocco – with which Germany has concluded an energy partnership. Alliances with Tunisia and Morocco are primarily concerned with access to these two countries’ wind and solar energy potentials to satisfy the energy needs of European – especially German – companies. These partnerships had been concluded particularly within the framework of the – largely unsuccessful – Desertec Project. Therefore, cooperation with Algeria has a more far-reaching character. The alliance with Algeria should permit Berlin access to this North African country’s fossil energy resources. Thus, the German Ministry of the Economy declared in an energy partnership press statement that Algeria is “one of Germany’s important suppliers of crude oil” and is “already now, the third most important source of European gas imports,” and therefore, in the long run, “makes also an important contribution to the assurance of German gas supplies.” However, Algeria, as Germany’s crude supplier, currently plays, in fact, a rather minor role. It provides at present only three percent of Germany’s total oil imports, and Germany does not even import Algerian gas. Nevertheless, the potential is enormous. Algeria is the world’s sixth largest gas exporter and a significant oil producer.
For years, there has been a discussion in Germany about the possibility of replacing, at least partially, the Russian with an Algerian gas supply. Already in the last decade, plans were made for a European consortium – including the Wintershall Corp. headquartered in Kassel – laying a pipeline from Algeria through the Mediterranean to Italy. The project – “Galsi” – was put on ice, because falling gas prices made the project too expensive. Now it may become possible to revive the project, but this is still uncertain. Last year, Spain emerged as a possible transit country for supplying Central Europe with Algerian gas. Spain is currently covering fifty percent of its gas requirements from Algeria, to which it has two pipelines. At the EU level, Spain is campaigning to continue these pipelines from Spain to France, to feed Algerian gas into Central Europe’s gas supply line. This could cover “at least twelve percent of Russian gas imports,” according to the spokesperson of the association of Spanish gas companies, Medigas. The German former EU Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, had also been a strong proponent of this alternative. The Ukraine crisis demonstrates, he declared, “just how important the extension … of missing junction pipelines between the member nations” is, “to improve the security of the EU’s energy supply.”