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Italy to Depend on Russia for Gas, Strengthens Ties with Algeria

Feb 03, 2023.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with Algerian President Abdelmajid Thebn during a visit to Algeria on January 23 and agreed to deepen comprehensive economic and energy security cooperation.

At a press conference, Prime Minister Meloni announced that "Italy can be a hub for energy supply and a door to Europe" by strengthening relations with Algeria. With relations with Algeria at the core, Italy is poised to push forward with its "Mattei Plan," its foreign policy toward African countries.

Italy was dependent on Russia for about 40% of its natural gas imports in 2021. Former Prime Minister Mario Draghi first sought cooperation from Algeria in the transformation of energy suppliers, which became an urgent issue after Russia's invasion of Ukraine (see Regional and Analytical Report, September 28, 2022). Algeria complied with the request and is now Italy's top natural gas importer by country.

Accompanying them on the visit were Claudio Di Scalzi, CEO of Eni, the Italian oil and gas giant, and Carlo Bonomi, president of the Federation of Italian Industries, the equivalent of Japan's Keidanren (ANSA News Agency, January 23). The two countries agreed to cooperate not only in energy, but also in industrial cooperation, aerospace, and other areas.

On January 23, Eni signed a strategic agreement with Sonatrach, Algeria's state-owned hydrocarbon corporation, for cooperation in the fields of energy supply, energy transition, and decarbonization, in the presence of Prime Minister Melloni and President Theven. The two companies will work on greenhouse gas and methane emissions reduction, energy efficiency, green hydrogen production, and carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage. CEO Discalczy told the press that "the gas supply from Algeria is increasing every year: two years ago it was 21 billion cubic meters, now it is 25 billion cubic meters, and in 2024 it will reach 28 billion cubic meters," and that it is possible to reduce gas supply from Russia to zero during the winter of 2024-2025. The forecast was made by ANSA on January 23, 2011.

(Note) The Mattei Plan (Piano Mattei) is a foreign policy initiative of Prime Minister Melloni that emphasizes cooperation and respect for mutual interests, named after Enrico Mattei, the founder of Eni, the Italian oil and gas giant that helped African countries develop their natural resources in the 1950s. The company bears the name of Enrico Mattei.


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