EU agrees gas deal with Azerbaijan as Italian PM travels to Algeria

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European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen with Azerbaijan leader   Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijani presidency/AFP via G)
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen with Azerbaijan leader Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijani presidency/AFP via G)

The European Union has signed a gas deal with Azerbaijan in an effort to move away from a reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced the agreement on Tuesday in a conference alongside Azerbaijan president of 19 years, Ilham Aliyev.

"Today, with this new Memorandum of Understanding, we are opening a new chapter in our energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, a key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels," Ms Von Der Leyen said.

Azerbaijan is already increasing deliveries of natural gas to the EU from 8.1 billion cubic metres in 2021 to an expected 12 billion cubic metres in 2022, the commission has said.

It wants to up its supply to 20 billion cubic metres a year by 2027.

The EU is looking to move away from Russian power sources in the continued fallout of their invasion of Ukraine.

Ilham Aliyev has been Azerbaijan president since 2003. (Azerbaijani presidency/AFP via G)
Ilham Aliyev has been Azerbaijan president since 2003. (Azerbaijani presidency/AFP via G)

Despite his government being in limbo, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi visited Algerian capital Algiers on Monday to finalise a separate deal.

Italy is especially dependent on natural gas to generate electricity, heat and cool homes, and power its industry.

Algeria is displacing Russia this year as the main supplier of gas to Italy.

A major agreement was reached during a trip by Draghi to Algeria in April between Algerian energy giant Sonatrach and Italian company ENI to increase gas exports.

A pipeline running through Tunisia and under the Mediterranean to Sicily is a key conduit in this strategy.

"Algeria contributes in a determining way to the action of the Italian government to diversify its sources of provisions, having become the top supplier of gas to Italy in these months," Mr Draghi's office said.

Italy has also been reaching out to other energy-producing nations to secure alternate sources, including Azerbaijan as well as Qatar, Congo, Angola and Mozambique.

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