Italy signs gas deals with Algeria to reduce reliance on Russia
ALGIERS: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced a deal on Monday to boost gas deliveries from energy heavyweight Algeria, as he steps up efforts to reduce Rome’s heavy reliance on Russian imports.
Addressing journalists after meeting President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Draghi told journalists the two governments had signed a preliminary deal on energy cooperation.
“There is also a deal between ENI and Sonatrach to boost gas exports to Italy,” he said, referring to the Italian energy giant and Algeria’s state hydrocarbons firm.
The firms agreed to boost gas exports through the Transmed undersea pipeline starting this autumn, gradually “increasing volumes of gas… up to 9 billion cubic meters per year in 2023-24”, ENI said in a statement.
The Ukraine war has sparked a Western push for sanctions against Moscow, including moves to drastically cut purchases of Russian gas.
Italy buys the vast majority of its natural gas from overseas, and is one of the most Russia-reliant gas importers in Europe, with over 40 percent of its imports coming from the country.
But Italy also imports significant amounts from Algeria, including some 6.4 billion cubic metres of Algerian gas during the first quarter of 2021, a 109 percent uptick from the previous year.
The war in Ukraine and the subsequent campaign of Western sanctions have prompted Rome to step up the search for alternative sources, with gas giant Algeria an obvious option.
“Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine I announced that Italy would organise quickly to reduce its dependence on Russian gas,” Draghi said.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2022