Italy to increase Algerian natural gas imports by nearly 50%
ROME: Italy will increase Algerian natural gas imports by nearly 50 percent after Prime Minister Mario Draghi signed an agreement with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
The agreement comes as Italy tries to compensate for a possible decrease in supplies of Russian gas amid the Ukraine conflict. “Our governments signed a declaration of intent on bilateral cooperation in the energy sector,” Draghi told the press at El-Mouradia presidential palace, adding that Italian and Algerian energy companies Eni and Sonatrach have agreed to increase gas supplies to Italy.
“Our governments signed a declaration of intent on bilateral cooperation in the energy sector,” Draghi told the press at El-Mouradia presidential palace, adding that Italian and Algerian energy companies Eni and Sonatrach have agreed to increase gas supplies to Italy.
Speaking after his meeting with Tebboune, who is due to visit Rome at the end of May, Draghi said “relations between Italy and Algeria have deep roots,” and Algeria “is Italy’s first trading partner in Africa, with a bilateral exchange increasing fast.”
Draghi added that Italy “is ready to work with Algeria to develop renewable energy and green hydrogen” in order to “accelerate the energy transition and create opportunities for development and employment in both countries.”
A source in Italy’s Ministry of Energetic Transition told Arab News that the export boost agreed in Algiers “would make Algeria Italy’s top natural gas supplier to replace Russia by increasing its shipments by an additional 9-10 billion cubic meters per year by the end of 2022.”
Last year Italy received around 21 billion cubic meters of gas from Algeria, compared to around 29 billion from Russia, which currently supplies nearly 40 percent of Italy’s needs.
Italy imports about 95 percent of the gas it consumes, and is one of the European countries most dependent on Russian gas.
The Italian delegation in Algiers included Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi and Minister of Energy Transition Roberto Cingolani, who said last week that Italy is in talks with up to seven countries, including Algeria, to secure gas supplies. Those negotiations, Cingolani added, are at “a very advanced stage.”
Italy has said it would support a ban on Russian gas over the Ukraine conflict if the EU is receptive to the idea.
Di Maio was in Algiers on Feb. 28, were he discussed with his counterpart an increase in the North African country’s gas supply to compensate for a possible decrease from Russia.
In late February, Algeria’s state-owned hydrocarbon giant Sonatrach said it was ready to supply more gas to Europe, in particular by transporting it through the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline connecting Algeria to Sicily.
Sonatrach President Toufik Hakkar said the pipeline “still has unused capacity” that could be used to increase supplies to Europe.