Algeria's gas role questioned

EU counts Algeria as No. 3 gas supplier.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  July 29, 2014 at 10:01 AM
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PARIS, July 29 (UPI) -- Algeria's role as a key supplier of natural gas to Europe should be reviewed given production declines, the European Council on Foreign Relations said Tuesday.

The European Union spends an average $1 billion per day on energy imports. More than 60 percent of the region's gas supplies come from foreign suppliers, notably Russia, Norway and Algeria respectively.

A policy brief published Tuesday by the European Council on Foreign Relations said the EU has a short-sighted stance on Algeria, which should be viewed as an "unreliable partner."

Mansouria Mokhefi, special adviser for the Middle East and North Africa at the French Institute of International Relations and author of the report, said that, while Europe is eager to diversify an energy sector dependent on Russia, Algeria may not be a good backstop.

"Algeria's sharp rise in domestic energy consumption and concurrent decline in gas production suggests that Algeria will fall short of this role," she wrote.

Algeria has the tenth-largest natural gas deposits in the world. Its exports have been in decline, however, because of lagging foreign investments.

Terrorists sympathetic with al-Qaida stormed the country's In Amenas natural gas facility in January 2013, leaving 38 civilians and 29 militants dead.

"The attack, while emphasizing the rapidly growing insecurity not just in Algeria but in the region too, revealed the government's failure to accurately evaluate threats and secure national territory," Mokhefi said.

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