In June Spain announced €2.3 million (£2 million) funding for the design study on the Strait of Gibraltar Morocco-Spain tunnel. This came approximately 3 months after the governments of Spain and Morrocco committed to stepping up efforts to relaunch the project.
Speaking in April, Raquel Sanchez, Spain’s Minister of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Agenda said, “After fourteen years, since October 2009, we are going to give impetus to the studies of a project of maximum geostrategic importance for our countries and for relations between Europe and Africa.”
Sanchez made her remarks alongside Morocco’s Minister of Equipment Nizar Baraka during an encounter that was part of the 43rd meeting of the joint Spanish-Moroccan commission for the tunnel project.
The £2 million comes from the EU’s Recovery, Transformation & Resilience Plan. The Spanish government has already transferred the funds to the Spanish Society of Studies for a Fixed Link through the Strait of Gibraltar (SECEGSA), which will look at options for the project.
Strait of Gibraltar (Morocco-Spain) underwater tunnel project overview
This is a proposed underwater tunnel project that is expected to deliver a fixed link between Morocco and Spain, or rather Africa and Europe.
The tunnel will be built across the Strait of Gibraltar, a narrow strait also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates the Iberian Peninsula in Europe from Morocco in Africa.
The Strait of Gibraltar (Morocco-Spain) underwater railway tunnel project consists of a 38 km-long tunnel from Tarifa to Tangier. Of the 38km, the tunnel would be underwater for 27 kilometres at a maximum depth of 475m and a slope of 3 per cent.
Strait of Gibraltar (Morocco-Spain) underwater tunnel project timeline
The Strait of Gibraltar underwater tunnel project coming back to life
The decades-old Strait of Gibraltar underwater tunnel project, which is expected to link Morocco and Spain, and Africa to Europe at large, is coming back to life. The project was discussed in a videoconference, held on Wednesday, April 21 between Abdelkader Amara, the Moroccan Minister of Transport, and his Spanish counterpart José Luis Abalos.
The two ministers agreed to convene a new joint intergovernmental meeting that will be held in the coming months in Casablanca, the Moroccan capital, during which files concerning the railway tunnel project will be put back on the table.
The will of the two countries to construct a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar materialized on October 24, 1980, when an agreement was signed creating a mixed Hispano-Moroccan committee that constitutes the project’s management body on one hand, and two state research companies responsible for carrying out the work plans approved by the joint committee on the other hand.
The research companies in question are the National Society for Strait of Gibraltar Studies (SNED) in Rabat and the Sociedad Española de Estudios para the Comunicación Fija a través del Estrecho de Gibraltar, SA (SECEGSA) in Madrid.
Back in 2006, engineers involved in the project declared that the tunnel could be commissioned by 2025, subject to technical feasibility studies. At the end of the same year (2006) Lombardi Engineering Ltd, a Swiss engineering company, was selected to design the tunnel and two years later the preliminary studies for the project were completed.
Morocco-Spain tunnel to commence construction in 2030
Construction of the Morocco-Spain tunnel is expected to commence in 2030. This is according to the Spanish research firm (SECEGSA).
According to SECEGSA, expert coordination meetings between the two countries will soon resume. This comes following the April 2021 meeting between the Moroccan and Spanish Ministers of Transport regarding the project.
Interest in constructing the intercontinental tunnel was reignited by the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline. The restoration of ties between Spain and Morocco according to the Spanish research company also contributed to the reignition of the project.
All of the studies conducted over the last 35 years on the project were recently presented to the representative of the Spanish Government. SECEGSA presented the studies in order to expedite the development.
Morocco-Spain Tunnel Project’s initial construction plans
The tunnel has been under consideration since 1979. Spain and Morocco made a joint declaration on June 16, of that year in Fez. This declaration provided the basis for the initial construction plans of the Morocco-Spain tunnel.
King Hassan II of Morocco and King Juan Carlos I of Spain have both declared a wish to support the advancement of the project. This was after realizing the importance of fostering future ties between the two countries. The kings were certain that such a huge project would have a considerable economic impact on the region.
The Strait of Gibraltar will develop into a safe gateway for energy products from Africa and the Middle East to Europe. This is because natural gas transit there is the least costly.