Italy closes energy cooperation with Algeria amid crisis with Spain

This content was published on April 11, 2022 – 18:59

Algiers, April 11 (EFE).- Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi today announced in Algiers a strategic cooperation agreement and an increase in gas imports from Algeria, which is going through an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with Spain because of its Western Sahara issue.

“Our governments have signed a statement of understanding on bilateral cooperation in the energy sector in addition to the agreement between (the Italian hydrocarbon company) Eni and (the Algerian) Sonatrach to increase the export of gas to Italy”, confirmed Draghi about this long-awaited rapprochement.

Relations between Algeria and Italy have been constant in recent months, while they have deteriorated with Spain and today’s visit was planned after Madrid’s support for Morocco’s autonomy plan. Western Sahara but within Morocco.

For Italy, its objective is to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, which currently accounts for 40% of the total imported, Draghi explained during a press conference after a private interview with Algerian President Abdelamadjid Tebboun.

STRATEGIC AGREEMENT AND MORE GAS

The aforementioned strategic agreement, signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad, Ramtane Lamamra, and his Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio, aims to strengthen cooperation to develop renewable energies and green hydrogen. .

“Italy and Algeria also wish to strengthen cooperation in other sectors. Today’s meeting will be followed by the fourth Intergovernmental Summit which I am happy to announce will be held here in Algiers on 18 and July 19,” Draghi said.

For his part, the president of the Algerian hydrocarbon company Sonatrach, Toufik Hakkar, and his colleague from the Italian Eni, Claudio Descalzi, have signed an agreement to increase exports to Italy from next year.

“Use the available transport capacities of the gas pipeline (Transmed) to ensure greater flexibility of energy supplies, by gradually supplying increasing volumes of gas from 2022, up to 9 billion cubic meters of gas per year in 2023- 24,” the Italian company said. in a press release.

“Algeria is Italy’s main trading partner on the African continent and trade between our two countries is growing strongly,” Draghi said.

For its part, Algeria indicated that it was working to strengthen its energy capacities, particularly in the field of gas due to the situation in Ukraine.

Algeria today reached out to Italy, which seeks, like the rest of the European Union (EU), to diversify its energy sources and reduce its dependence on Russia , especially since that country invaded Ukraine on February 24.

“Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine, I announced that Italy would quickly organize to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. Today’s agreements will represent a significant response to achieve this strategic objective and to others,” said the Italian Prime Minister.

WITHOUT APPROACHES WITH SPAIN

The president of the Italian group Eni visited Algiers earlier this month and discussed with his Sonatrach counterpart new associations which pointed to increased supplies from Algeria.

The meeting only took place the day after Hakkar warned that he was not ruling out reviewing petrol prices for his “Spanish customer” while maintaining the same rate for the rest of the countries.

Algeria, Spain’s main natural gas supplier, already decided last October to close the Maghreb Europe (GME) gas pipeline, which supplied Spain and Portugal via Moroccan territory, although it guaranteed the supply via the Medgaz gas pipeline, which directly connects the two countries, and LNG tankers.

The recent visit of the President of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, to Rabat, during which he staged his change of policy on Western Sahara with King Mohamed VI, has only fueled Algerian discontent.

The Sahrawi independence group Front Polisario, which has its headquarters in exile in Algeria, suspended its contacts with the Spanish government on the 9th, while the Algerian ambassador, Said Musi, called for consultations because of the crisis, n still hasn’t returned to Madrid. EFE

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