EU lauds importance of Algerian natural gas

July 9, 2013 at 7:56 AM

ALGIERS, Algeria, July 9 (UPI) -- The European Union values Algeria as a key partner in the energy sector and supports its continued role in the region, the European Commission president said.

Algeria has the 10th largest natural gas deposits in the world and is the third-largest supplier to Europe. Its exports have been in decline, however, because of lagging foreign investments.

EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday in Algiers that economic development and bilateral trade would help ensure stability in the broader Maghreb region of North Africa.

"We believe that enhanced regional cooperation would bring benefits in terms of prosperity and security, both for the countries of the region and the European Union," he said in a statement.

Militants sympathetic to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb stormed the In Amenas natural gas facility in eastern Algeria in January. Foreign workers with BP and Norwegian energy company Statoil were among those killed in the attack.

Barroso said the European Union is committed to stability in Algeria.

"Algeria is a key partner for the EU, both at the bilateral and regional levels," he said. "Natural gas is a strategic issue for both parties: Algeria is a major supplier to Europe, while Europe is by far the largest customer of Algeria."

The In Amenas facility is expected to resume full operations later this year.

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