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EUROPE: Italy PM in Algeria seeking gas to reduce Russia reliance

ITALIAN Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in Algeria on Monday as Rome steps up efforts to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian gas.

Italy buys the vast majority of its gas from overseas, with some 45 percent of imports coming from Russia.

But Rome is hoping its second-biggest supplier Algeria can boost its sales in order to reduce that dependence after the war in Ukraine sparked a push for sanctions against Moscow.

The Italian premier was invited by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to discuss “reinforcing relations of cooperation between the two countries”, Tebboune’s office said, without giving more details.

Draghi said last week that Italy would “follow the decisions of the European Union” on new sanctions against Russia, including a possible gas embargo.

Italian energy giant ENI’s chief executive Claudio Descalzi visited Algeria in February with Italy’s foreign minister in a bid to increase supplies from the North African country.

Algerian state hydrocarbons firm Sonatrach said at the time it was ready to increase gas supplies to Europe, notably via the Transmed pipeline linking Algeria to Italy.

Its CEO Toufik Hakkar said Europe is the “natural market of choice” for Algerian gas, which accounts for about 11 percent of Europe’s gas imports.

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