Italy’s foreign minister and the country’s top energy CEO are visiting Algeria to discuss gas supply cooperation due to the Ukraine crisis. Governments around western Europe are looking for alternatives to supply from Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.
The foreign office announced that minister Luigi Di Maio was travelling to Algeria with Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi and a representative of the energy transition ministry. Italy, along with other western European countries, are looking for alternative gas supplies to reduce their reliance on Russia.
Eni has a series of long-term contracts with Algerian monopolist Sonatrach. It also has strategic take-or-pay contracts with Russia’s Gazprom.
Pipeline to Italy
Algeria has pipelines to Spain and Italy and a large LNG terminal at Skikda. Last year, it boosted its oil and gas output by 5%. However, there is an increase in domestic consumption and some political instability which resulted in capped exports.
But on Sunday the CEO of Sonatrach said the pipeline to Italy had spare capacity that could be used to increase supply to Europe.
Currently, the European Union depends on Russia for more than a third of its gas. Consumer bills have already increased exponentially in the last year, and any interruption of flows would worsen the energy crisis.
Italy generates approximately 40% of its electricity from gas and imports more than 90% per cent of overall gas consumption -mostly from Russia and Algeria. Natural gas is regarded as the cleanest fossil fuel. However, it still emits a large amount of methane, unlike renewable sources such as wind and solar.