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ENERGY

Spanish and Algerian gas firms agree to ‘revise’ prices

Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach has agreed with Spanish buyer Naturgy to revise prices on gas deliveries through a key undersea pipeline, as Europe gears up for a winter energy crunch.

SPAIN-ALGERIA-PRICES-GAS
Naturgy is Spain’s top buyer of Algerian gas, which represents over a fifth of the firm’s total gas purchases.(Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

“Sonatrach and its partner Naturgy have agreed to revise the prices of the existing long-term gas supply contracts taking into account market developments,” the Algerian firm said in a statement.

It did not say which way they would be revised, but natural gas prices have more than doubled in Europe since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, as Russia cuts back supplies in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions.

Algeria, Africa’s top natural gas exporter, has signed a flurry of deals with southern European governments and energy firms seeking to offset the fallout, delivering a cash windfall for Algeria.

But experts have cast doubt over its ability to boost production in the short term.

The Spanish government in July urged energy firms to reduce their imports of gas from Russia.

But ties between Madrid and Algiers have been cold since the government of Pedro Sanchez in March dropped decades of neutrality on the Western Sahara conflict, backing an autonomy plan drafted by Algeria’s arch-rival Morocco.

Algeria in June suspended its 2002 friendship treaty with Spain, but has said gas deliveries will continue.

Sonatrach supplied more than 40 percent of Spain’s natural gas imports in 2021 through the deep-sea Medgaz pipeline.

Naturgy is Spain’s top buyer of Algerian gas, which represents over a fifth of the firm’s total gas purchases.

Spanish gas regulator Enagas says Algeria was the country’s second gas supplier (24 percent) in August, behind the United States (26.5 percent).

But Algeria’s share has dropped in recent months as Spain has increased its imports from other sources.

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BRITONS IN SPAIN

Can British people in Spain claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment. But can Britons living in Spain claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Spanish homes?

Can British people in Spain claim the UK's winter fuel payment?

Energy costs are on the up in Spain, and with the winter fast approaching the added cost of paying for heating when the mercury drops can result in some very high bills.

Not all of Spain has freezing winters but there are often cold spells and many houses in the country tend to get even colder than it is outside.

READ MORE: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

The average winter temperature across Spain is 8C (1981 to 2010 average). That’s higher than the average in other European countries, but in Spain’s interior and mountainous areas it can be truly chilly from November to March.  

That means that overall, there’s a chance you’ll need to use a radiator or the central heating to keep your Spanish home warm.

So are some of the 400,000+ UK nationals who reside in Spain eligible for winter fuel financial support from the UK?

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The UK’s winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Those eligible must have been born before September 26th 1956, according to the UK government website.

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £250 and £600.

I’m a UK national living in Spain. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

The UK government states that those living abroad can benefit from the winter fuel payment if:

  • You moved to an eligible country before 1st January 2021
  • You were born before September 26th 1956
  • You have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK

While many EU nations are on the list of eligible countries, such as Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Italy, unfortunately Spain is not on the list.

This means that if you live in Spain, you will not be able to claim the winter fuel payment at all, even if you meet the age conditions.

Why isn’t Spain on the eligible list of countries?

The UK government services website nidirect states that “you cannot get the payment if you live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain because the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest region of the UK”.

This is despite the fact that some parts of Spain are a lot colder than the average UK winter temperatures. This includes cities, towns and villages near mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees or Sierra Nevada, or regions in the interior like Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón​​ and Castilla y León.

According to the British government, during winter the average temperature is between 2 and 7 C in the UK.

READ ALSO: Where are the coldest places in Spain?

Foreigners in Spain used to be able to claim this financial benefit, but it was scrapped in 2015 after many UK taxpayers were angry that UK winter fuel payments were going to help people that lived in countries that were generally warmer than the UK.

READ ALSO: Which UK benefits can Brits keep if they move to Spain?

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