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Algeria hailed by EU energy chief for 'partnership'

Algerian Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane (2nd-R) greets European Union's energy commissioner Kadri Simson (L)   -  
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Algeria has been hailed for its "long-term strategic partnership" with the European Union EU, as the bloc turns to Africa's biggest gas exporter to fill a gap left by Russian supplies.

EU's energy commissioner Kadri Simson is the latest in a string of top European officials to visit Algeria in search of more natural gas since Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"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 the gap," said Simson. "In this respect, we are offering Algeria a long-term strategic partnership," she added.

Algeria has helped Europe diversify its energy supplies by pumping more gas to Italy, which in July signed a deal to import billions more cubic meters via an undersea pipeline from the North African coast.

Europe's hunt for gas has become ever more urgent as winter approaches, but experts have cast doubt over Algeria's ability to boost output in the short term.

Algerian Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane however said state hydrocarbons firm Sonatrach had put in place an "accelerated programme" to bump up output.

Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab, speaking at an energy summit in the capital Algiers attended by Simson, said his country was "a trusted supplier" that always honors its contractual obligations.

He added that Algeria was examining the possibility of laying high-voltage cables under the Mediterranean to export electricity to Europe and that the country hopes to produce as much as 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035.

Simson said she wanted the EU to help Algeria reduce its methane emissions and boost its electricity output from renewables.

"Algeria has one of the highest solar-based energy potentials in the world," she said in a tweet. "The EU is ready to help Algeria unlock this potential."

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