“It is desirable that traders seek to minimise imports of Russian gas as much as possible,” Energy Minister Teresa Ribera told a news conference following a weekly cabinet meeting.
Unlike oil, Russian gas is not affected by European Union sanctions adopted in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February but “it is recommendable to seek alternatives,” she said.
Her comments come after Spain’s gas network operator Enagas said Friday that Russia has surpassed Algeria as Spain’s second-largest natural gas supplier, accounting for 24.4 percent of Madrid’s gas imports in June.
Deliveries from Algeria, which had long been Spain’s top supplier, accounted for 21.6 percent of Spain’s gas.
The drop in gas flows from Algeria comes after Madrid in March reversed its decades-long stance of neutrality on the Western Sahara conflict, saying it would back Morocco’s autonomy plan for the disputed region in order to end the lingering diplomatic spat.
Spain’s U-turn, which was widely seen as a victory for Morocco, infuriated its regional rival Algeria, which has long backed the Polisario Front, Western Sahara’s independence movement.
Algeria on June 8 suspended its 2002 friendship treaty with Spain and its banking association then urged members to restrict business ties.
The Russian gas purchases made in June “probably” are related to trade agreements made before the war in Ukraine started, Ribera said.
Nevertheless, it is important that Spanish firms work to “diversify their contracts,” she said.
The United States remained Spain’s biggest gas supplier in June, with a share of 29.6 percent.