The case is of paramount importance, and it was completed in record time. Monday, April 11, the President of the Italian Council, Mario Draghi, traveled to Algiers to meet President Abdelmadjid Tebboune there, and officially announce the agreement between the two countries to increase natural gas deliveries to Italy. .
In the coming months, the Transmed gas pipeline, linking the Algerian gas fields to western Sicily via Tunisia, should see its flow rate increased so as to operate at full capacity. The objective is to gradually increase Algerian gas deliveries to 30 billion cubic meters (against 21 currently), an increase of 9 billion cubic meters – an increase corresponding to approximately one third of current Russian gas deliveries. In practice, an increase of 3 billion would be possible from 2022, the rest being expected in the course of 2023.
In these times of war in Ukraine, and while the whole of Europe is trying to do everything possible to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, the success of this operation carried out at the pace is not an easy task. Certainly, Rome will pay this additional contribution at a high price, but, while Europe continues to discuss the possibility of imposing an energy blockade on Russia, the agreement signed in Algiers is a considerable step forward. In the coming weeks, the President of the Italian Council is due to travel to Congo, Angola and Mozambique, in order to formalize agreements with more distant prospects. In the short term, it seems impossible to fully compensate for the annual 30 billion cubic meters that Russia delivers to Italy (40% of the country’s gas imports). Still, all opportunities to reduce the cost of possible sanctions on the energy sector are good to take.
Italy, in fact, continues through the voice of its President of the Council to affirm that it is ready, if its partners so decide, to accept an embargo, whatever the cost. “Do we prefer peace or air conditioning this summer? This is the question, I think, that we must ask ourselves”, he summarized on April 6 at a press conference, at the end of the Council of Ministers.
Since the start of the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Draghi has shown himself to be in favor of firmness, despite the reluctance expressed by several of the components of his majority. According to information from Financial Times, it was he who, from the first hours of the invasion, put forward the idea of “freeze” foreign assets of the Russian central bank, depriving Moscow of more than $600 billion in resources and thereby inflicting unexpected damage. Without confirming this information, the presidency of the Italian Council let it be said. In the same way, he defends, since the beginning of the clashes, the idea of supplying defensive weapons to the Ukrainians. “Not to give arms to those who are attacked would be to prove the autocrats right”, he assured the rostrum of the Chamber of Deputies on March 23, not hesitating to summon in the hemicycle the memory of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
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