Italy today sealed a broad political and economic agreement with Algeria at a bilateral summit by which it will replace Russia as the main supplier of gas in the country, just on the eve of the European Commission announcing the need to apply rationing measures in homes and industries to the consumption of this raw material in the face of the foreseeable supply cut by Moscow.

“We perceive a total convergence of points of view on the main issues and the situation in Libya, Mali and the Sahel and we agree to support the efforts of the UN envoy in Western Sahara and MINURSO for the solution of the conflict”, he summarized as base of the agreement the Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune in statements collected by the Algerian News Agency.

The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, has thus taken full advantage of the open crisis between Algeria and Spain as a result of the shift applied by the Spanish Government around the solution to the problem of Western Sahara. Algeria is no longer the main supplier of gas to Spain, which now relies on the United States as its main supply channel.

The United Nations Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara (Minurso) is a UN peacekeeping mission to observe the ceasefire and organize a referendum among the Saharawi people on their political future inside or outside of Morocco Until the past In March, Spain was aligned with this option but in an unexpected twist, President Pedro Sánchez promised King Mohamed VI to support the proposal for the integration of the Saharawi territory in Morocco as an autonomy, describing it as “the most serious base, credible and realistic approach to resolving this dispute.

The change detonated the crisis with Algeria from which the current agreement with Italy derives to make Rome the main European ally. The government led by Draghi attended the Italian-Algerian summit with six ministers, with the priority objective of guaranteeing gas supplies in exchange for offering a broader relationship. Tebboune, announced in Algiers the signing of an agreement worth 4,000 million dollars “that will allow Italy to supply very large quantities of natural gas”. The agreement includes the Algerian public sector company, Sonatrach, and the American, Italian, and French companies Occidental, Eni, and Total, respectively.

The Algerian president opted to renew with his “friend President Draghi the proposal” for Italy to be one of “the providers of solar and conventional electricity in Europe”, a role that, until the crisis in Western Sahara, was reserved for Spain. In April, Tebboune himself accused Pedro Sánchez of having broken bilateral relations between the two countries with his change of position.

The North African country has displaced Russia as Italy’s main gas supplier, which seeks to further reduce dependence on Moscow. Draghi has stated that in recent months, Algeria has become the main supplier of gas to our country” and the announcement of 4,000 million cubic meters of gas in recent days represents “an acceleration compared to what was foreseen” by the agreements and “anticipates even more conspicuous supplies in the coming years.”

Algeria is already a key commercial partner of Rome, a position that will be reinforced with the signing this Tuesday of a contract that will increase its gas supply through the Transmed gas pipeline that reaches Mazara del Vallo, in Sicily via Tunisia.

The Algerian hydrocarbon company Sonatrach announced three days ago that it will increase its gas shipments to Italy starting next week with an additional 4 billion cubic meters, in addition to the nearly 14 billion supplied so far this year.

An increase represents 113% of the expected volumes and the North African country expects to increase to 6,000 million cubic meters before the end of the year to “further strengthen the historical ties” between both companies.

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