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7th Dec 2022

EU looks to Algeria for extra gas — and possibly solar

  • EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson (l) said the EU is ready to 'unlock' Algeria's renewables potential (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)
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The European Union wants to expand gas trade with Algeria, as part of its wider efforts to diversify supplies away from Russia.

"Algeria is and continues to be a very important and reliable exporter of natural gas to the EU and Europe is ready to step up this cooperation even further," EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said on Tuesday (11 October), during a press conference along with the Algerian minister of energy, Mohamed Arkab.

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The EU has now offered Algiers "a long-term strategic partnership" for gas, renewables and hydrogen, she also said.

In recent months, the north African country has received several visits from EU officials and leaders seeking to strengthen bilateral trade. These include, for example, European Council president Charles Michel and French president Emmanuel Macron.

Algeria is Europe's third-largest gas supplier, with a share of around 10 percent of the EU's gas imports in 2020-2021.

But the EU is seeking to increase volumes from suppliers across the globe to secure alternatives to Russian gas for next winter — when fulfilling gas storage facilities may become a challenging task.

"As the relationship with Russia so far EU's biggest gas supplier is irreversibly broken, we are turning to the EU's reliable suppliers to fill in this gap," said Simson, adding that the EU wants to bring its cooperation with Algeria to "the new level".

The partnership will not only be focused on gas but also on reducing methane emissions — a key environmental factor also included in the gas supply agreement reached in mid June with Egypt and Israel.

Another promising area for collaboration is renewable energy, as Algeria has a strong solar potential and is located close to the 27-member bloc. "The EU is ready to help Algeria to unlock that potential," the Estonian commissioner said, adding that Brussels is ready to deploy several projects on the ground.

Increasing the share of renewables in the country could also enable further collaboration for green hydrogen — under a strategic partnership.

After a high-level energy dialogue event on Monday, Simson said that the EU is ready to mobilise "significant" funding in cooperation with the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

"A possible EU — Algeria Hydrogen Partnership could work jointly to develop the production, consumption and trade of renewable hydrogen and hydrogen based derivatives," she said.

Under the REPower EU plan, published in May, the bloc aims to import 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, experts are convinced that the future of Europe and Algeria's energy partnership lies in renewables.

"While Algeria has little spare capacity to increase its hydrocarbon exports in the short term, it holds far more promise for Europe as a long-term partner in renewable energy," Andrew Farrand, a researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, wrote in a recent paper.

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