Italy signs gas deals in Angola, Congo to cut Russia ties
Italy struck new deals to boost natural gas imports from Angola and the Republic of Congo as Mario Draghi’s government rushes to cut energy dependence on Russia.
The accords, which follow recent supply agreements with Algeria and Egypt, come as European countries clamber to secure alternative sources amid the war in Ukraine. Africa is an attractive option for Italy, with energy giant Eni SpA already present in more than a dozen countries on the continent.
The deal with Angola will increase Italy’s gas purchases and encourage joint projects that will include renewables and liquefied natural gas, according to a statement. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Energy Minister Roberto Cingolani travelled to the southern African nation in lieu of the prime minister, who tested positive for Covid-19 early this week.
Eni subsequently agreed to increase gas production in the Republic of Congo and to develop an LNG project with a capacity of more than 4.5 billion cubic metres a year, according to a statement Thursday.
Italy currently gets about 40% of its gas from Russia, and Draghi has acted quickly to try to replace that supply with flows from elsewhere since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Halting gas imports from Russia is an “ethical duty” that could be accomplished in about 18 months, Cingolani told the newspaper La Stampa.
The visit to Africa could be followed by a trip to Mozambique, though plans haven’t yet been confirmed, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Eni last week signed a major deal with Algeria that will see the North African country provide an additional 9 billion cubic metres of gas a year by 2023-2024 — and potentially become Italy’s top supplier. The company also struck an agreement with Egypt to increase flows of LNG to Italy.
“Diversification is possible and feasible relatively quickly, shorter than we imagined just a month ago,” Draghi said in an interview with Corriere della Sera on Sunday.
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