On an official visit to Rome, Abdelmajid Tebboune is overseeing a series of agreements to strengthen Algerian energy supplies to Italy

Second handshake between Italy and Algeria: green hydrogen and 3,000 more cubic metres of gas per year

The President of the People's Republic of Algeria visited the Italian capital yesterday, and with the signature of his European partners, consecrated a series of agreements that have been moving the pieces of the energy chessboard in the Mediterranean since March. This is the second package of energy agreements signed by the two countries this year. 

Abdelmajid Tebboune was received at the Chigi Palace, seat of the presidency of the Council of Ministers, by Sergio Mattarella, Mario Draghi and the top executives of the Italian energy company ENI, in which the state holds a 30% stake. The Algerian political leader was accompanied by the heads of Algeria's national gas company Sonatrach. 

The visit comes a month after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's visit to Algeria and is a further step in the cooperation between the two countries on gas supplies. The new agreements are part of Italy's strategy to seek alternatives to Russian gas, a major historical supplier for Europe. On the Algerian side, trenches are being dug and strong positions are being taken thanks to Italy in a context of total fracture with Morocco and tension with Spain.

In parallel to the political authorities, the energy companies Sonatrach and Eni have also signed a series of agreements. In addition to increasing the volume of Algerian exports, the two parties to the contracts have agreed to improve the infrastructure of the Transmed pipeline connecting Algeria to Sicily and to search for new natural gas fields for Eni to exploit.

visita roma tebboune

Toufik Hakker, Chairman of Sonatrach, and Claudi Descalzi, CEO of Eni, signed the memorandum between the two countries' companies. According to Eni, this new memorandum is a further step in its determination to bring infrastructure and collaboration to Algeria. In April, the companies already signed a Transmed upgrade that would allow the pipeline to transport up to 9 billion cubic metres of gas per year by 2023.
The companies have also agreed to study new energy possibilities focused on green hydrogen. In Eni's statement, the company confirms its intentions to develop a clean energy project in Bir Rebaa, near the Algerian border with Tunisia. The signed agreement stipulates that the operations planned for Bir Rebaa will be conducted by JV SONATRACH and Eni GSE in partnership.

The signed MoU is intended to correspond to Italy's aspirations for decarbonisation and energy diversification, one of the key pillars for the energy of the future, according to Nemesio Fernandez-Cuesta, former Spanish Secretary of State for Energy and former head of Repsol. "The future of energy is electrification and diversification. Green hydrogen is not everything, but it is part of the solution", says the energy and climate change expert. 

Following the signing of the new agreements in Rome, the press office of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers confirmed that Mario Draghi had a telephone conversation with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. According to the Italian presidency, Draghi and Putin reportedly discussed the progress of the war in Ukraine and the situation of economic crisis resulting from the conflict. 

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The Italian presidency has not confirmed whether the two leaders discussed Russian gas supplies to the European country, which before the war in Ukraine accounted for 44 per cent of imports, the number one gas importing country, and now sees its position threatened by Algeria. Russia has so far shown no discomfort with Algeria firmly positioning itself as Italy's - and possibly Europe's - new main partner. 

After the quarrels between the Algerian and Spanish governments over Madrid's new stance on the Western Sahara issue, it remains uncertain whether the Italians will be allowed to supply Algerian gas to third countries. Italy positions itself as Algeria's favoured partner in Europe, and this could work to Spain's disadvantage. Algeria's position is strengthening and it provides a reliable outlet for its product, which allows it to keep its gas connections through Morocco closed. 

visita roma tebboune

Algerian gas inflows into Spain continue to be minimal. Whereas in February and January an average of 312 gigawatts per hour per day was entering through the Medgaz pipeline linking Algeria to Almeria, since April the volume has barely exceeded 200 GwH/day, while the Algerians continue to threaten to break the contract if they transport their gas to Morocco, reversing the flow from the Maghreb-Europe. 

The Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, has repeatedly stressed to the media that Algeria is a reliable partner, characterised by its respect for supply contracts, and that it will not stop sending gas to Spain.