Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Italy is to send a delegation to Angola and the Congo this month to seek gas deals, according to two sources.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will head the delegation which is expected to include Eni energy company CEO Claudio Descalzi and Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani, Reuters reports Tuesday.
Sources pointed out that the move is aimed at helping Italy to wean itself off Russian natural gas imports and added that the delegation is planning the visits for 20 and 21 April.
According to one of the sources, the delegation aims to secure new natural gas supply deals for approximately 9 billion cubic metres (bcm) over the next one or two years.
“Draghi is planning to visit Mozambique soon, though as yet no date has been set,” one of the sources noted.
Russian gas accounts for roughly 40% of Italy’s imports, approximately 29 bcm annually, and the war in Ukraine has pushed Rome to look for ways to diversify its energy supply.
Draghi reached an agreement with Algeria on Monday to increase natural gas imports from the country by 9 bcm in 2023 and 2024, which should help Italy to supplant Russian imports.
Eni’s plans in Africa
Eni is the largest foreign energy company in Africa and is developing two liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in the Congo that could output about 5 bcm annually when completed.
In addition, the company has recently launched a joint venture with BP in Angola, where a government source noted that the country could start producing roughly 4 bcm of LNG annually in the coming years.
Eni is also building a floating LNG plant in Mozambique, which is to start operating this year and produce approximately 3.4 tonnes annually.
In 2015, the company discovered the giant Zohr gas field in the Egyptian part of the Mediterranean Sea, which stands to nearly double Egypt’s natural gas reserves.
While Italy has five natural gas import pipelines, the country is focusing on LNG to balance its energy mix and currently runs three LNG terminals.
The Government has announced plans to buy two LNG storage and regasification units (FSRUs) with total capacity of roughly 10 bcm annually.