Country Listing

Spain Table of Contents



Although oil continued to be Spain's major source of energy, it had diminished in importance significantly since 1973. Oil consumption grew steadily between 1973 and 1979, reaching 50 million tons in that last year, but by 1985 it had declined to 39 million tons. Oil accounted for two-thirds of the country's primary energy requirements throughout the 1970s, but by the mid1980s the figure had dropped to just over half. In 1985 alone, Spanish industry saved 40 billion pesetas (US$260 million) by replacing 500,00 tons of oil consumption with coal and natural gas.

In 1985 Mexico, responsible for 19.7 percent of Spain's petroleum imports, was the largest single supplier of Spain's energy needs, and in the mid-1980s Latin American countries provided Spain with about one-quarter of its imported oil. Africa's share--Nigeria being the most important supplier-- dropped from 36.5 percent in 1985 to 29.3 percent in 1987. Middle Eastern countries provided 27.4 percent in 1985 and 29.6 percent in 1987. Western Europe's share rose from 10.6 percent in 1985 to 16.5 percent in 1987. Efforts were under way to lessen Spain's dependence on Middle Eastern oil and to increase imports from Mexico.

In the 1980s, imported petroleum entered Spain via eight ports. The three largest, in terms of vessel capacity, were Algeciras (330,000 deadweight tons), Malaga (330,000 tons), and Cartagena (260,000 tons).

Spain possessed a small domestic oil production capability that yielded only 1.6 million tons in 1987. Despite a sizable exploration effort, only a few small fields and two medium-sized ones were discovered. The Casablanca oil field, discovered in 1983, yielded 90 percent of Spain's domestic oil production in 1987, but it was not large enough to offset an overall decline in Spanish production. The fall in oil prices in the 1980s further reduced the country's exploration efforts.

The Spanish oil industry imported and refined foreign crude petroleum; it distributed petrochemical products within Spain; and, in the mid-1980s, it exported about 10 million tons of finished petroleum products per year.

As with some other sectors of the Spanish economy, the domestic oil industry had been brought under state control. Distribution of petroleum products had been in the hands of the state monopoly, Compania Arrendataria del Monopolio de Petroleos (CAMPSA), since 1927, and large portions of the shipping and refining system were state owned. To rationalize the petroleum industry and to make it able to withstand foreign competition, the National Institute for Hydrocarbons (Instituto Nacional de Hidrocarburos--INH) was formed in 1981 in order to direct CAMPSA and those parts of the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry supervised by INI. By the mid-1980s, INH was responsible for more than 1 percent of the Spanish GDP, and it claimed 20,000 employees. To prepare for Spain's entry into the EC, after which state monopolies were required to be phased out, all of INH's holdings, with the exception of the state gas company, Empresa Nacional del Gas (ENAGAS), were placed under a new holding company in the late 1980s. The company, Repsol, which had a stock market listing, was gradually to allow a greater role for private capital in the petroleum industry. By 1988 Repsol had become Western Europe's seventh largest petroleum company, and its management planned to continue to control about half of the Spanish market once that market was fully opened to foreign firms in 1992. EC membership rendered CAMPSA's future uncertain, for it would no longer be allowed its distribution monopoly. The Treaty of Accession that brought Spain into the EC stipulated that specific amounts of nine groups of petroleum products from foreign suppliers would have access to the Spanish market. In 1986 these products were to have a 5 percent share of the domestic market--a share that was to increase by 20 percent (of this 5 percent) each year thereafter.

Data as of December 1988