Interview with Amina Benkhadra, Director General, Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines, Kingdom of Morocco

Interview with Amina Benkhadra, Director General, Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines, Kingdom of Morocco


What is Morocco’s energy strategy for the coming years?

Morocco has implemented an energy strategy since 2009, with the following objectives: establish a diversified and optimized energy mix, especially for electricity generation, around clean, reliable and competitive technological choices; large-scale development of national resources in renewable energy, especially solar and wind; promoting energy efficiency; mobilization of fossil national resources by the intensification of oil exploration; integration into the African and Euro-Mediterranean regional energy systems to strengthen energy security and technology transfer; and early adoption of environment protection measures in all energy activities.

This strategy is based on an open energy mix, including all energy sources. The choice of renewable energies is a strategic choice to develop the abundant natural resources and contribute to sustainable development. Morocco has considerable assets to achieve this transition and in particular through the realization of the Solar and Wind Power Plans, launched by His Majesty the King, May God Assist him with a target of 52% of electrical power in 2030 coming from renewable energy. This strategy is accompanied by a new dynamic in terms of research – innovation through dedicated structures such as the Research Institute for Solar Energy and New Energies IRESEN and the Moroccan Foundation for Advanced Science, Innovation and Research, MASCIR.


To what extent will the green energy industry be a boost to Morocco through its own production and its connection with neighboring countries?

Morocco has adopted a proactive approach to set itself up as a regional model in terms of low-carbon industry. The low carbon strategy adopted by Morocco aims to ensure a transition to a green economy by 2030 through political, institutional, regulatory and financial reforms. Morocco’s ambition is to position itself as a low-carbon industrial base. A carbon tax about to be imposed by the European Union must be the catalyst that will shift our companies towards the energy mix; which will have the double benefit of reducing their energy bill and giving them unparalleled international competitiveness.

Morocco has implemented a hydrogen roadmap. According to  the International Renewable Energy Agency, International Energy Agency and the World Bank, Morocco could attract between 4 to 8% of global green hydrogen production.

With this in mind, the new Moroccan industrial strategy aims to decarbonize industrial production in order to improve the competitiveness of the sector and strengthen its attractiveness. Morocco is an ideal partner for much of the world, It has a unique geo-strategic position with proximity to Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Middle-East and America – it is at the crossroads of the main international exchange routes, linking the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle-East. We have free trade agreements with the  USA, EU and have had an association agreement with the European Union since 2000 and an advanced status in 2008. We are a secure and favorable place for investment with political and macroeconomic stability; we have electrical connection between Morocco and Spain with two  lines and the third is under study and a study is underway for connecting Morocco with Portugal, we have connections to Mauritania and a gas interconnection via the Maghreb–Europe Gas (GME) Pipeline.

We have strong partnerships with African countries in several sectors including energy, agriculture and banking and contribute  to numerous regional integration projects. Our national energy strategy makes Morocco one of the top of renewable energy countries and we are connected through the Africa Atlantic Nigeria Morocco Gas Pipeline Project


Can you explain to our readers, many of whom are international investors, what is the Morocco Offer?

Our great potential in renewable energy resources especially solar and wind is based on our availability of lands for large solar and wind scale plants, export infrastructure, a well-established research and development sector in this field and our green partnership signed with the EU within the framework of the Green Deal. Considering all this, we present a new Morocco Offer, based on a comprehensive, practical and transparent approach that gives investors a clear vision; developing incentives and support project holders to ensure the successful implementation of Morocco Offer; identifying a one-million-hectare land and providing 300,000 hectares for investors in the first stage. So far more than  100 national and international investors have expressed their strong and active interest in the Morocco Offer.


What can you explain to our readers about the African Atlantic Nigeria Morocco Gas Pipeline and how is its development progressing?

The African Atlantic Nigeria Morocco Gas Pipeline project is a visionary project born out of the joint commitment of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and reaffirmed by His Excellency President Bola Tinubu. This ambitious project spans 13 countries along the Atlantic coast and 3 landlocked countries. The gas pipeline will run along the West African coast from Nigeria, through Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania to Morocco, and will be connected to the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline and the European gas network. This infrastructure will also make it possible to supply the landlocked states of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.

The NMGP is a testament to the strong partnership between Nigeria and Morocco and their shared vision of a prosperous and interconnected Africa. The pipeline will not only provide a reliable and affordable source of energy for millions of Africans, but it will also boost economic development and create jobs across the continent. It will contribute to structuring a regional electricity market and will constitute a substantial source of energy at the service of industrial development, the improvement of economic competitiveness and the acceleration of social development.

The sizing and environmental and security studies have favored a predominantly offshore route. Its maximum capacity is 30 billion cubic meters per year (bcm) and allows 18 bcm to be made available for export to Europe. The total investment required is USD 25 billion.

The detailed front-end engineering design (FEED) studies are being carried out by two consortia: Intecsea/Worley for the technical studies and ILF/Doris for project management consultancy (PMC). The pipeline is designed to be able to transport some green hydrogen.

Construction is planned progressively in phases around different sections in order to meet technical constraints and synergies with existing infrastructure. Phase 1A: Ghana – Côte d’Ivoire; phase 1B: Senegal – Mauritania – Morocco (GME) and to Europe; phase 2: Nigeria – Ghana to increase volumes from Nigeria; phase 3: Côte d’Ivoire – Senegal.

Survey studies for the northern section are complete and those for the southern section will start shortly. The feasibility and FEED studies are being financed directly by the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company with a loan from the Inter American Development Bank and OPEC Fund for the surveys and  Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) studies. The parties are actively collaborating on the financing of the project and the supply and marketing of gas.


Can you explain to our readers the National Office for Hydrocarbons and Mines and what services you provide for Morocco’s energy sector?

ONHYM is the public institution in the field of oil and gas exploration and production, playing a major role in promoting the hydrocarbon potential of the Moroccan acreage to international energy companies, acting in the midstream in gas transport and in the mining sector. ONHYM is pursuing sustained efforts to boost both mineral exploration and oil and gas exploration, by strengthening the policy of openness to the global market and developing partnerships with investors on both national and international levels to promote the mining and hydrocarbon potential of the Moroccan subsoil.

Over the past decade, Morocco has granted several international companies licenses to explore for oil and gas.  Majors, independents and juniors invested in exploration activities in different regions. Recently SDX Energy, Chariot Energy, Sound Energy, ENI, Qatar Petroleum, Hunt Oil, Genel, Ratio, New Med and Predator Oil & Gas are actively exploring and drilling sites in the country.  Production is underway in the Gharb and Essaouira regions. Medium discoveries are under development in Tendrara (onshore) and Lixus (offshore). Exploration is conducted in several bassins: Missour, Doukkala, Tadla, Zag, Boudenib and Guercif.

With persistence, resilience, consistent investments and strategic partnerships in the area, Morocco is hopeful for a significant hydrocarbon discovery in the future.  ONHYM also plays a crucial role by attracting investments, by collaborating and facilitating partnerships with foreign companies and through its activities, we seek to contribute to Morocco’s energy self-sufficiency and security, reducing dependency on imports.


What is your final message for the readers of Newsweek?

Morocco has considerable assets to achieve the energy transition, in particular Renewable energy and hydrogen where it can position itself as a precursor. Morocco aims to position itself as a first-rate regional production and export platform at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Middle East.

Morocco aims to become in the coming years, based on the choices it has made, the most competitive industrial base in the world and among the five most innovative and carbon-free industrial base references in the region thanks to having one of the greatest potentials of renewable energy. These choices and this positioning open up great opportunities.