Algeria expects its natural gas exports to Italy will climb by a fifth this year, as European nations race to reduce their reliance on Russian supplies. 

Gas shipments to Italy from the north African country will total about 25.2 billion cubic meters in 2022, Toufik Hakkar, chief executive officer of state energy firm Sonatrach, said in an interview. Italy received 20.9 billion cubic meters from Algeria last year, data from Italy’s gas network show. 

Countries are rushing to find alternative energy providers like Algeria to make up for the loss of supply from Russia, which cut gas flows to Europe in reaction to the continent’s support for Ukraine. For its part, Italy struck a deal with Algeria in April to increase imports through the Trans-Med pipeline, which was followed by ex-President Mario Draghi’s visit in July in a bid to secure more gas.

“The supply prospects of the Italian market but also of the markets connected to Italy are promising,” Hakkar said, adding that additional volumes are expected to be contracted “during the coming weeks.”

The volume of gas pumped to Italy under long-term contracts will be about 21.6 billion cubic meters this year, while the amount sold under spot transactions is likely to total 3.6 billion cubic meters, he said.

“Sonatrach reassures its Italian customers of its ability to supply the contracted volumes over the entire contract period,” Hakkar said.

Algeria also has two pipeline links with Spain. However, Spanish grid data show Algerian gas imports slumped 40% in the first half from a year earlier after the Maghreb-Europe link, which crosses Morocco, halted in November 2021 in a rift between Algiers and Rabat over the status of Western Sahara.

Spain has received 6.9 billion cubic meters of gas so far this year, Hakkar said.