Italian FM in Algeria for energy talks amid Ukraine crisis repercussions

AFP , Monday 28 Feb 2022

Italy's foreign minister visited Algeria Monday for talks on increasing gas supplies from the North African country to compensate for a possible drop in Russian supplies over the Ukraine conflict.

File Photo: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the National Community Abroad, Ramtane Lamamra held at the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic, a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio, as part of the visit of State to Algeria, carried out by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella. AP

Luigi Di Maio tweeted that he would meet with his Algerian counterpart and top officials to "discuss strengthening bilateral cooperation, in particular to address European energy security needs, in the light of the conflict in Ukraine".

Russia last week invaded its pro-Western neighbour, prompting international outrage and causing the United States and its allies to impose sanctions on Moscow.

Algerian state energy giant Sonatrach said on Sunday it was ready to increase gas supplies to Europe, notably via the Transmed pipeline linking Algeria to Italy.

Sonatrach is "a reliable gas supplier for the European market and is willing to support its long-term partners in the event of difficult situations," chief executive Toufik Hakkar was quoted as saying in the daily Liberte.

Hakkar said Europe is the "natural market of choice" for Algerian gas, which accounts for about 11 percent of Europe's gas imports.

Di Maio was accompanied by a delegation, including Claudio Descalzi, head of Italian energy giant Eni, which is a partner of Sonatrach in Algeria.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has called for Italy to move quickly to diversify its sources of energy to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

Italy imports around 95 percent of the gas it uses, and around 45 percent of that comes from Russia, Draghi said, adding that supplies could be increased from Algeria but also Azerbaijan, Tunisia and Libya.

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