Qatar Energy’s exploration for oil in the North African nation’s southern waters has sparked environmental concerns among Spanish authorities.
Morocco has strengthened the Tarfaya Shallow Oil Agreement between the the country’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM), Italian oil and gas company Eni and Qatar Energy (QE).
This means that the North African nation has renewed the license for QE, formerly known as Qatar Petroleum, for oil explorations in its southern waters near the Canary Islands.
The move has triggered expressions of concern from Madrid, according to Spanish online new site El Español.
In 2019, Italian energy company Eni sold 30% of its exploration shares in Morocco to Qatar, making QE and Eni partners. Eni owned 75% of the exploration rights in the region through its subsidiary Eni Morocco, while ONHYM retains 25% of these concessions.
The region in question includes Tan Tan, Sidi Ifni, and Tarfaya, but officials in the autonomous Spanish community the Canary Islands have expressed “extreme concerns.”
“These prospects are located near Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, but if they were to find gas and start drilling, there would be an environmental danger in the case of an accident,” said officials from a Canarian nationalist party to the Spanish online newspaper.
Similar projects in the Tarfaya region had sparked criticism from Canarian authorities in the past, although Morocco reassured them that the islands will not be impacted.
Early last year, Morocco passed laws fixing its maritime borders with Spain in an attempt to settle a decades-long dispute concerning its borders facing the Islands.
The new borders gave the North African nation exclusive control over research, economic activity, and resources in the area.
Earlier this year, Morocco’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Environment Aziz Rabbah discussed bilateral energy relations between Rabat and Doha with his Qatari counterpart.
The two nations promised to fortify their energy cooperation, including in green and renewable energy.
Qatar is on its way to becoming the world’s biggest LNG producer by the end of the decade. QE boasts a number of overseas upstream and downstream deals in countries including Oman, Mexico, Mozambique, Angola, Kenya, Guyana, the US, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Kenya and Morocco.