Algeria is a “reliable” energy supplier, European Council President Charles Michel said on Monday during a visit to the North African country as Europe scrambles to replace Russian supplies.
“Given the international circumstances that we’re all aware of, energy cooperation is obviously essential, and we see Algeria as a reliable, loyal and committed partner in the field of energy cooperation,” Michel said after meeting President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
European officials have been looking to Algeria, Africa’s biggest gas exporter, to fill a shortfall in supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February sent prices soaring.
The situation has taken on added urgency in recent days after Russia halted gas deliveries to Germany via the key Nord Stream pipeline just weeks before Autumn begins.
Before the Ukraine war, Algeria provided the European Union with some 11 percent of its gas needs, against 47 percent provided by Russia.
Algiers has seen a string of high-profile visitors in recent months seeking to boost exports.
Late last month, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed moves by Algiers to help “diversify” Europe’s gas supplies.
In July, Italy’s Eni, US major Occidental, France’s Total and Algeria’s Sonatrach signed a $4 billion oil and gas production-sharing contract Tebboune said would provide Italy with “significant volumes of natural gas”.
Algiers has also vowed to boost gas deliveries to Italy via its undersea Transmed pipeline by the end of the year.
But according to industry publication the Middle East Economic Survey, Algeria’s total natural gas exports fell 18 percent year-on-year for the first half of 2022.
“The sheer dependence of several (European) importers on Russia makes replacing these volumes an impossible challenge, at least in the near-to-medium term,” it said.