Following an agreement between Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Italy will raise Algerian natural gas imports by approximately 50%.

The arrangement comes as Italy strives to compensate for the possibility of a reduction in Russian gas supplies as a result of the Ukraine crisis.

“Our governments signed a declaration of intent on bilateral cooperation in the energy sector,” Draghi told the press at the El-Mouradia presidential palace, adding that Eni and Sonatrach, two Italian and Algerian energy corporations, had committed to enhance gas shipments to Italy.

Draghi said following his meeting with Tebboune, who is scheduled to visit Rome at the end of May, that “relations between Italy and Algeria have deep roots” and that Algeria “is Italy’s first trading partner in Africa, with a bilateral exchange growing rapidly.”

Draghi went on to say that Italy is “ready to collaborate with Algeria to develop renewable energy and green hydrogen” in order to “accelerate the energy transition and provide chances for both nations’ development and employment.”

According to a source in Italy’s Ministry of Energetic Transition, the Algiers agreement “would make Algeria Italy’s main natural gas supplier, replacing Russia by increasing supplies by 9-10 billion cubic meters per year by the end of 2022.”

Algeria supplied over 21 billion cubic meters of gas to Italy last year, compared to around 29 billion from Russia, which supplies nearly 40% of the country’s needs.

Italy imports nearly all of the gas it consumes, making it one of Europe’s most reliant countries on Russian gas.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, and Minister of Energy Transition Roberto Cingolani were among the Italian team in Algiers, who indicated last week that Italy is in talks with up to seven nations, including Algeria, to ensure gas supply. Cingolani noted that the talks are “at a very advanced level.”

Italy has stated that if the EU is amenable to the notion of a Russian gas embargo over the Ukraine war, it will support it.
On February 28, Di Maio visited Algiers, where he discussed with his colleague the possibility of increasing the North African country’s gas supplies to compensate for a probable reduction from Russia.
Algeria’s state-owned hydrocarbon company Sonatrach announced in late February that it was ready to supply more gas to Europe, particularly through the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline that connects Algeria and Sicily.

Toufik Hakkar, President of Sonatrach, stated that the pipeline “still has underutilized capacity” that may be used to boost supply to Europe.

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