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Algeria not responding to Europe requests for increase in gas supplies

A foreign delegation visits on December 14, 2008 the Krechba gas treatment plant, about 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Algiers. The In Salah gas project, a four-year old venture grouping energy majors Sonatrach of Algeria, BP of Britain and Statoil of Norway, is described by its managers as the world's first and largest onshore carbon capture and sequestration scheme. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is due to meet on December 17, 2008 in the Algerian city of Oran. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
A foreign delegation visits on December 14, 2008 the Krechba gas treatment plant, about 1,200 km south of Algiers [STR/AFP via Getty Images]

Algeria has so far remained neutral and refused to respond to requests for it to compensate for the deficit in Russian gas, favouring its diplomatic relations with Moscow over financial interests that could come from Europe, Arab media has reported.

The position taken by Algeria demonstrates the strength of diplomatic relationship between Algiers and Moscow sinceĀ Algeria's independence in 1962, when the Soviet Union announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with independent Algeria.

In return, Algeria recognised the Russian Federation in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and mutual visits by the leaders of both countries followed.

The Soviet Union was among the most prominent countries that supported the Algerian war of liberation politically and militarily and was the first country in the world to recognise the interim Algerian government.

Economic cooperation between the two sides has been since the 1960s, when the Soviet Union provided loans for the economic development of Algeria, as it was emerging from 130 years of colonisation.

With the help of the Soviet Union, major projects were implemented in Algeria, including steel and iron plants, a power station, a gas pipeline and a dam.

READ: Western oil companies boycott Moscow, Russia bank files for bankruptcy

To date, Algerian Sonatrach, the national oil company, has close relations with Russian energy companies and the two countries have signed several strategic agreements for cooperation in many fields.

Algeria is connected to Europe through three pipelines, two of which are still in service.

Commenting on requests to Algeria to compensate for the Russian gas imports to Europe, one former CEO of the Algerian Sonatrach, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Algeria's production falls far short of Russia's.

"The quantities of gas that Algeria exports annually to Europe exceed 42 billion cubic metres, while one Russian pipeline can pump these quantities," he said.

"Frankly and objectively, there is currently no country that can confront Russian production of gas… There are European attempts to reduce dependency on Russian gas, through other sources such as Algeria, Qatar and the United States."

Moreover, Moscow is Algeria's first supplier of arms, and according to observers, Algeria has purchased billions of dollars' worth of weapons from Russia over the past years including Sukhoi and MiG jets, helicopters, tanks, as well as submarines.

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