Italian FM in Algeria for energy talks

Luigi Di Maio
Italy’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio. (Photo: Wikimedia)
MILAN, Italy — Italy’s foreign minister held talks in Algeria Monday on increasing gas supplies from the North African country to compensate for a possible drop in Russian supplies over the Ukraine conflict.اضافة اعلان

Luigi Di Maio tweeted as he arrived that he would “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 neighbor, prompting international outrage and causing the US and its allies to impose sanctions on Moscow.

“Our goal is to protect Italian companies and families from the effects of this terrible war,” Di Maio told reporters, without giving any detail on how much extra gas Algeria might provide.

Italy imports around 95 percent of the gas it uses, and around 45 percent of that comes from Russia.

During his visit Di Maio met Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the foreign and energy ministers and Toufik Hakkar, the head of Algerian state energy giant Sonatrach.

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”, Hakkar was quoted as saying in the daily Liberte.

He added that 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 that included 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.

Di Maio confirmed on Monday that Italy was “committed to increasing energy supplies, notably in gas, from various international partners” — including Algeria, which he said had “always been a reliable supplier”.

Draghi said that supplies could also be increased from Azerbaijan, Tunisia, and Libya.

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