Naturgy: Gas supply contracts with Algeria unaffected by any shareholding change

MADRID (Reuters)Spanish energy firm Naturgy said that its gas supply contracts with Algeria do not include any clauses that would be affected by changes to its shareholding structure.

The comments come after a source told Reuters that Algeria would cancel deliveries of gas to Naturgy if the Spanish firm's shares are sold to another company. The source did not name the firm that could buy Naturgy's shares, but Abu Dhabi's TAQA said last month it was in discussions with Naturgy's three largest shareholders which could lead to a full takeover bid for the largest natural gas firm in Spain.

"There have never been any clauses in the supply contracts (the current contracts expire in 2030/31) that were affected by possible changes in the shareholding of either party," a spokesperson told Reuters. "In fact, such shareholder changes have occurred in the past and have had no impact on the contracts' performance.”

Algeria's ties with the United Arab Emirates have suffered in recent years after the UAE and Morocco were among Arab states boosting ties with Israel in the so-called Abraham Accords. Algeria and Morocco are major regional rivals, while Algeria champions the Palestinian cause and was critical of the accords.

Spokespeople for Spain's energy, economy and foreign ministries declined to comment on the possibility of Algerian gas supplies being cut. Representatives for Algeria's government were not immediately available to comment. TAQA said it "does not comment on market rumor or speculation" while the UAE government did not reply to a request for comment.

Naturgy has gas contracts with Algerian state oil and gas company Sonatrach for about 5 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year, according to figures the Spanish company gave to the market in 2022. The parties are negotiating prices for 2023, retroactively, and 2024.

Algerian gas made up roughly one-third of Spain's total gas imports in the first three months of the year, according to data from Spanish gas grid operator Enagas. The bulk of the supply comes via the Medgaz pipeline, in which Naturgy is a minority partner and Sonatrach holds a 51% stake. Sonatrach also has a stake of about 4% in Naturgy.

Naturgy hailed its more than 50-year-old relationship with Sonatrach.

"During all these years, there have been no breaches by either party. Not even in politically sensitive times on both sides of the Mediterranean have the contracts not been honoured," it said.

TAQA said last month it was in talks with private equity firms CVC and GIP about buying each of their 20% plus stakes in Naturgy, and also with Naturgy's largest shareholder Criteria, which owns a 26.7% stake, about a possible partnership.

Criteria declined to comment on the future of Algerian gas deliveries.

(Reporting by Pietro Lombardi, Lamine Chikhi, additional reporting by Belen Carreño, Jesus Aguado, Maha El Dahanm, Federico Maccioni; Editing by David Latona, Kirsten Donovan)


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