The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, traveled to Algeria on Monday in order to sign a number of agreements, one of which was an energy deal to increase gas supply and lessen his country’s reliance on gas imported from Russia. Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the President of Algeria, gave Draghi a warm welcome. The two heads of state then led a ministerial meeting together, where they are likely to sign a number of agreements.
During a press conference held in conjunction with Draghi, Tebboune made the following statement to the media: “Tomorrow, an important agreement between (US energy firm) Occidental (Petroleum), (Italian energy giant) Eni and (French oil company) Total providing significant volumes of natural gas” to Italy will be signed. He was talking about an agreement that Algeria’s APS news agency said was reached on Friday to send an extra four billion cubic meters of gas to Italy this year.
The majority of Italy’s natural gas is procured from suppliers located in other countries; traditionally, over 45 percent of this country’s imports have originated in Russia. After the conflict in Ukraine spurred sanctions against Moscow and caused energy costs to skyrocket, Rome has increasingly looked to Algeria, which has historically been its second biggest supplier, to reduce its dependence on Russia. Algeria has “become in recent months the largest supplier of gas” to Italy, which means that Algeria has superseded Russia as the country’s primary gas supplier.
According to Draghi’s office, the two countries are also planning to sign accords that will strengthen their collaboration in the areas of law enforcement, industry, and culture. According to APS, prior to the most recent agreement, Algeria was planning to supply Italy with a total of approximately 20 billion cubic meters of gas in 2022 as a part of the whole transaction. Draghi had already traveled to Algeria in April, during which time he concluded an agreement to expand Algerian exports to Italy through the Transmed pipeline by up to nine billion cubic meters per year in 2023-24.
In May, the Italian energy company Eni and the Algerian state-owned energy company Sonatrach entered into a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on expanding gas exploration in Algeria. The MOU “will allow Sonatrach and Eni to evaluate the gas potential and opportunities for accelerated development at specific fields already discovered by Sonatrach in Algeria,” Eni said at the time. “The gas potential and opportunities for accelerated development at specific fields already discovered by Sonatrach in Algeria” is an excerpt from the Eni statement. Algeria is the most important country in Africa for gas exports, and around 11% of the natural gas used in Europe comes from Algeria.