Russia has historically been the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe, accounting for more than 40% of the EU’s total gas imports in 2021. However, with continuing conflict in Ukraine this may be the time for North Africa to step up.

While there has not been a total ban of Russian gas imports, European economies have been reducing their reliance on Russian gas.

Following an initial spike in gas prices in the early days of the conflict in 2022, when Russia’s gas pipelines to Europe were cut later the same year, they increased again, and are predicted to rise to their highest level in more than two years.

It has left the continent instead turning to the more expensive global market for liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG from suppliers in the US and Qatar have already doubled their share of the EU’s gas supplies. The latter is expected to control nearly 25% of the global market by 2030.

However, since the start of the conflict in Gaza in October, concerns have been growing about the transport of LNG through the Red Sea, where 13% of Europe’s LNG supply passed in 2023, providing North African economies with an opportunity to step in.

Algerian LNG exports reached 1.1 million mt in April. Around 87% of its exports went to feed demand for natural gas in Europe. The country has exported 4.16 million mt in 2024 so far, a significant increase on previous years.

It currently supplies to Italy and Spain via two main entry points: the Medgaz pipeline and the TransMed pipeline.

There are clearly opportunities to explore for other North African suppliers of LNG such as those in Libya.

Two Italian energy companies have already made significant investments in the Libyan gas sector.

In a landmark $8 billion deal, Eni and the National Oil Corporation (NOC) partnered to boost gas production, aiming to enhance both domestic supply and European exports. The project has an expected start date of 2026, and commentators believe it will play a significant part in boosting Libya’s profile in the gas sector.

Also in 2023, Rosetti Marino won a $300 million dollar contract to provide engineering and construction services for the Bouri offshore gas field.

Both mark significant steps in Libya’s natural gas production and emphasise the importance of international investment in the sector.

Eltumi Partners is able to provide commercial and legal expertise to those looking at opportunities in the Libyan oil and gas sectors.

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