The British Sponsor methane tanker, flying the United Kingdom flag, has arrived this week at the port of Bilbao with 173,400 cubic m3 of liquefied gas on board. It is the first gas shipment from Mozambique to arrive in Spain from the Coral-Sul floating plant, located on the north coast of that African country, in the waters of the Indian Ocean.
Mozambique, a country tormented by civil war after Portuguese decolonization in 1975, has significant natural gas reserves in the province of Cabo Delgado, for years one of the most neglected areas of the country. Since these deposits were discovered in 2010, with a potential value of 210,000 million dollars, bullets have been whistling in Cabo Delgado. In 2017, the Islamist guerrilla movement Al-Shabaab took control of a part of the northern province, appealing to the fight against poverty. A year later, several Mozambican ministers were dismissed as a result of a major corruption scandal linked to the Cabo Delgado oilfield. Al-Shabaab now appears linked to the Islamic State, troops from several African countries collaborate with the Mozambique army in the fight against the guerrillas, while various international companies exploit the deposits. The gas that has arrived this week in Bilbao has been extracted by ENI, an Italian public hydrocarbons company (there are still public energy companies in Europe) and commercialization is carried out by British Petroleum (BP).
The reform of the Penal Code is a poorly explained and run over initiative; the catastrophism of the right prevents further damage to the Government
From Cabo Delgado to Paris. Matter is neither created nor destroyed, it is only resold as energy. Once disembarked in Spain, it is very likely that the Mozambican gas will be dedicated to the production of electricity and that a part of that electricity will be exported to France to avoid power outages in a country that is a nuclear power.
The problem is well known: some 15 French nuclear reactors out of a total of 56 present severe maintenance problems (corrosion in cooling pipes). The repair is very complicated – radiation is dangerous near the reactor – and the initially planned plans are not being fulfilled. France needs to buy electricity and various countries, including Spain, are selling it.
Winter is approaching but all estimates point to Europe not experiencing blackouts despite the severe decline in Russian gas imports. The reservations were filled on time, at the stroke of a checkbook, and the autumn has been benign. The winter of 2024 may be harsher, says a recent report from the International Energy Agency. Filling the reserves will be more expensive next summer, despite massive imports and new suppliers such as Mozambique. If China’s demand for oil and gas rises as a result of loosening anti-Covid policy, Europe’s problems may escalate in the coming months as Russian artillery shells Ukraine’s vital infrastructure non-stop and Ukraine’s troops prepare for a possible winter counteroffensive.
At some point a negotiation on the future of Ukraine will be considered and it will be necessary to see if that moment coincides with the filling of the European reserves. When that delicate moment arrives (that of refilling the gas reserves) there will be a few months left before the holding of general elections in Spain.
From the benign autumn of 2022 comes the initiative of Pedro Sánchez for the reform of the Penal Code. With colder weather and less gas in stock, with runaway inflation, with signs of recession; without an Iberian cap and without the decline of Alberto Núñez Feijóo in the polls, today the crime of embezzlement would not be discussed.
The government initiative, poorly explained, run over, stuffed into a final legislative year in which everything is mixed up and nothing is understood, is filling the tanks of bad humor to the brim. The unbridled catastrophizing of the opposition momentarily saves the Government from ending the year knocked out. We will see if that gas can be liquefied before May.