France seeks to mend fences with energy-rich former colony
French President Emanuel Macron is on an official visit to Algeria in a bid to mend relations with the former colony. The trip coincides with the deepening energy crisis in Europe, with EU countries struggling to find alternative supplies of natural gas in preparation for winter.
French electricity prices for next year hit a record level on Friday, with the year-ahead contract surging as much as 13% to Є1,022 per megawatt hour on the European Energy Exchange.
Power prices have been smashing records nearly every day as Western sanctions have limited supplies of Russian natural gas to the EU. Moreover, members of the bloc had been actively trying to diversify energy imports to reduce their reliance on Moscow long before the Ukraine-related penalties were introduced.
Algeria has helped Europe diversify its energy supply by pumping more gas to Italy, Macron noted on Thursday.
The French president’s visit comes after decades of tension between the two countries over conflicting memories of Algeria’s war of independence. Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris over the issue last year.
Last month, Italy’s Eni, US firm Occidental Petroleum, France’s Total and the Algerian group Sonatrach signed a 25-year oil and gas production-sharing contract worth $4 billion. Algeria reportedly supplies around 11% of the natural gas consumed in Europe.
However, according to Macron, Algerian gas won’t be able to change the situation with the French gas supply, as it accounts for just 20% of his country’s total energy balance.
Earlier this month, utility Electricite de France said a number of its nuclear plants, the leading source of power for the country, are expected to come back online later than expected.
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