Thursday, February 2

Morocco gives a new license to an Israeli company to prospect for natural gas in waters near the Canary Islands


The Ministry of Energy and Mining of Morocco has signed a agreement with the Israeli company NewMed Energy for the exploration and production of natural gas offshore in nearby waters a Canary Islandsas reported by the news agency Reuters. Another company, Adarco Energy, also participates in the agreement: both will share 37.5% of the license granted by the Moroccan government, which will have the remaining 25%.

Spain fights at the UN to annex 500,000 square kilometers of submerged surface, much of it together with the Canary Islands

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It is an eight-year agreement. The Israeli company’s plan is to first carry out prospecting for two and a half years and, later, carry out drilling on the seabed. The agreement is already signed, although it still requires regulatory approval from the Moroccan government.

Expropriations to the south of the zone that corresponds to Morocco

The natural gas exploration and production license granted is located in the offshore zone of Moroccospecifically in the southern part from his Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE)close to the Saharawi city of Boujdour, some waters that, therefore, would belong to Western Sahara, a territory pending decolonization.

Let us remember, a country can unilaterally adapt its maritime border up to 200 miles (Exclusive Economic Zone) or request its extension up to 350 miles (the maximum allowed) if it does not overlap with another State. And if they overlap, both countries must reach an agreement to establish the maritime border. However, these explorations will be carried out outside the Moroccan EEZ, to the south of it.

The maritime border between Spain and Morocco, the eternal dispute

Spain and Morocco are separated by just over a hundred kilometers. Specifically, the Majorera town of Gran Tarajal and the Moroccan cape of Juby are about 117 kilometers away. Of course, both borders overlap, so there would have to be an agreement to establish the maritime border.

Without any agreement signed so far between Madrid and Rabat that establishes the delimitation of their waters, the Canary Islands have maintained the separation of the sea with the neighboring country in half of those 117 kilometers, distributing a part for each territory. The latest negotiations between the two countries date from May of this 2022after 15 years without having held talks.

It is not clear Naps scans Of gas that the Israeli company will carry out are within the area in dispute with Spain, but they are outside the Moroccan control zone. A puzzle still to be solved in which Western Sahara also comes into play, a people that has been asking for self-determination for decades.

On the other hand, it should also be noted that in 2019, the Moroccan Parliament unilaterally approved two laws that delimited its maritime space with Spain and Mauritania and that it considered the waters of Western Sahara as its own. The African country’s Foreign Minister, Naser Burita, recognized then that the new borders could also create “overlapping problems with the Spanish state”, conflicts that, from his point of view, “can be dealt with through dialogue”.

Second survey in two years in Saharan waters

In October 2021, the Israeli company Ratio Petroleum reached an agreement with the Moroccan Ministry of Energy to explore exclusively in Western Saharan waters over which Morocco has no sovereignty and which, furthermore, are close to the Canary Islands.

Mount Tropic, 200 kilometers south of El Hierro, claimed by Spain

Spain is fighting to annex the Tropic seamount (250 miles southwest of El Hierro), a strip of about 296,000 kilometers that extends to the west of the islands and in which there could be important submarine deposits. Next February, a delegation will travel to the headquarters of the United Nations Organization to defend that this territory belongs to them.



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