HIGH POTENTIAL

Morocco 2020/21 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

ONHYM is engaged in an energy transition for Morocco where renewable energies will be positioned more in the mix.

Amina Benkhadra
BIOGRAPHY

Amina Benkhadra is the General Director of ONHYM. Her career started in 1982 at the Mines Research and Participation Office (BRPM), where she held several positions of responsibility. In 1994, she was appointed director of mines at the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water, and Environment and secretary of state in charge of mining sector development. She became director of BRPM in 1998 and subsequently general director of the National Office of Oil Research and Exploitation. In 2007, she was appointed Minister of Energy, Mines, Water, and Environment. She graduated in civil engineering and mining from École des Mines de Nancy and holds a doctorate in engineering sciences and mining technologies from École des Mines de Paris. She also holds a double degree in management from Columbia University.

What new trends are you working on?
We have developed an energy strategy in which renewable energies take a prominent place, thanks to the strategic vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Our 2020 goal aims for 42% of our electrical capacity to come from solar, wind, and hydraulic sources; the objective by 2030 is 52%. As a public organization representing the interests of the Kingdom of Morocco, ONHYM also has the mission to search for all the energy potentials of subsoil and geothermal energy. For several years now, we have done evaluation studies for geothermal on the whole country, and we have identified two large areas: Morocco's northeast and south. In the northeast, detailed studies have been carried out to identify the most favorable zones for geothermal energy. We have done a survey of all the potential pockets in the area that will undergo more refined work, since further drilling is necessary to precisely measure some parameters.

Why is geothermal energy efficient for the country?
As a renewable energy source, geothermal energy is an underground source that does not emit CO2, making it sustainable as an energy source. There are countries in northern Europe like Finland that produce almost 70% of their electricity from geothermal sources. We are looking into all the potential sources. It is an ongoing process, and we will see results later as we go deeper into the data. We need more drilling to measure the gradients in some areas in detail, and we will move forward gradually to make sure this energy can find a place if the results are convincing.

ONHYM signed six petroleum agreements with international companies in 2019. What investment opportunities
is the country offering to these international investors?

ONHYM's mission is to attract the maximum number of international companies, majors, juniors, and independents to support exploration, which is one of our main missions, alongside promotion. Most of the investments in the field of hydrocarbon exploration in Morocco are made by partners. Looking at investment figures, more than 96% is financed by foreign investors every year. These numbers are due to multiple reasons. One is that Morocco has favorable geology in sedimentary basins, but these have not been sufficiently explored despite the efforts made. Second is our hydrocarbons code, which is considered one of the most attractive in the world. We grant favorable conditions to those investing in exploration, including exemptions from customs duties and from VAT on important equipment and exemption of corporate tax up to 10 years from the date of production. In the event of discovery, the partner owns 75%. A third point is our global macroeconomic framework in terms of political security and geographical positioning. We wish to use our favorable position to increase our regional integration.

What will be the role of ONHYM in the future if there is a shift toward more renewable sources of energy?
The goal for 2030 is 52% of the installed capacity to be from renewable sources. The country's energy strategy has four fundamentals: the country's supply security; energy availability at the best price; regional integration; and sustainable development and environmental protection. In order to have energy security, we need a diversified electricity mix where all sources have their place. We are engaged in an energy transition where renewable energies will be positioned more in our mix. Today, more than 80% of the global energy sources are thermal, namely coal, oil, and gas. The rest is split between nuclear and renewable energy. In 2040, 74% of this mix will still be thermal energy. Looking at the fossil fuels portfolio, coal and oil will fall, but gas will increase as it is considered clean energy. Therefore, despite the green revolution, thermal energies are still predominant but with a stronger emphasis on gas.