After the Russia-Ukraine War, the geopolitical tensions between Russia and European countries led the European Union (EU) to break its dependence on Russia in the field of natural gas and oil and seek alternative sources. In this context, firstly, sanctions were imposed on Russian oil and natural gas supply, and then European leaders started to visit supplier countries that could provide an alternative to Russia.
Before the war, Russia supplied 40% of the EU’s natural gas needs and this rate was about 11% for Algeria. So, Algeria is Europe’s third largest source of foreign gas, after Russia and Norway. In addition, with the benefit of being a Mediterranean country, Algeria mostly supplied the natural gas it exported to Europe to Italy and Spain. Therefore, the first leaders who knocked on Algeria’s door after the war were also from these countries.
After the war, former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz frequently crossed the Mediterranean to visit African countries in order to ensure their countries’ energy security. Therefore, Algeria, which has been away from the international arena for a long time, has been exposed to intense diplomatic traffic, and the war has led to changes not only in Europe but also in Africa.
Being cautious against the geopolitical earthquakes between Europe and Russia, Algeria preferred subjective neutrality as it was during the Cold War and did not change its relations with Russia or Europe. However, it is still possible to say that it leaves a trade door open to every country. Because while Algeria increases its natural gas supply to EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries, it can be said that this situation did not affect the relations it developed with Moscow. Although this situation raises doubts about the reliability of Algeria by Western countries, it can be stated that the EU ignores this because the country needs natural gas resources.
With the tenth largest proven natural gas reserves, the sixth largest gas exporter and the third largest shale gas reserves in relation to the EU’s efforts to move away from Russian gas, Algeria is considered the “savior” of the European continent. One of the biggest reasons for this is the existence of the infrastructure that can provide natural gas flow between Algeria and Europe.
Currently, Algeria passes through Russia via the Trans-Med Pipeline and is Italy’s largest natural gas supplier. In addition, Algeria exports natural gas to both Spain and France and Portugal via the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (MEG), which goes to Spain via Morocco.
Despite the war and the fact that the EU is the center of attention, there are some obstacles in front of Algeria in terms of being evaluated as an alternative to Russia. First of all, the country needs exploration, infrastructure development and investments in the field of energy, especially natural gas. Moreover, the country cannot focus on investments due to its territorial claims in Western Sahara and terrorist activities in the region. Secondly, the increase in domestic energy consumption makes it difficult for Algeria to meet the demands of the global market.
In this context, it is envisaged that the EU will primarily increase investments in Algeria and provide support in ensuring the necessary stability. Although the West may continue to ignore human rights violations such as political oppression and ill-treatment of minorities in Algeria under current circumstances, with the increasing relations between the union and the country, investing in Algeria’s energy infrastructure alone will not be enough. Therefore, the country’s implementation of reforms not only in economic terms, but also in social and political terms may come to the fore for the continuity of Mediterranean-European cooperation.
Algerian gas is less attractive in terms of price, quantity and access than Russian gas. However, with the geopolitical changes, the country in question stands out as an important and effective alternative resource. There are numerous disagreements and failures in the history of Algeria’s relations with the EU, especially with France. Despite this, the fact that the energy supply continues to flow consistently from the Mediterranean has led to the emergence of the opinion that Algeria is a more reliable source next to Russia.
Looking at the “savior” role from Algeria’s point of view, it can be said that the existing traditional relations with Russia are a regressive factor between the EU and Algeria. Especially after the war, Moscow increased its interest in North African countries. In this case, it can be foreseen that the countries of the region may stay between the EU and Russia and be forced to put their neutrality aside. Algeria may also be affected by this and be in a difficult situation.
Russia and Algeria held a joint military exercise between 16-28 November 2022 in the Hammaguir region of Bechar, in northwest Algeria, just above the Moroccan border. At a time when there are signs of the Cold War between NATO and Russia, Russia’s exercise with Algeria on the borders of Southern Europe means that Moscow poses a threat to the EU’s energy security. Because Russia can use its presence in Algeria, which is a short distance from the gateway to Southern Europe, as a threat.
In conclusion, although Algeria seems to be a solution to the continent’s energy crisis with the partnership and agreements it has developed with the EU, this does not seem easy due to the Russian factor, lack of investment and socio-economic divisions. Therefore, it can be said that the country in question will not offer an alternative to the continent in the medium term. Algeria’s economic gain through the trade relations it has developed with the EU and increasing its military cooperation with Moscow is not a sustainable situation for partnership in the current international system. Because Algeria does not want to give up its common interests with both the West and Russia. Therefore, it can be considered as a big risk that the EU imposes the role of a “savior” on Algeria.
 “EU Imports of Energy Products- Recent Developments”, Eurostat, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=EU_imports_of_energy_products_recent_developments#Main_suppliers_of_natural_gas_and_petroleum_oils_to_the_EU (Date of Accession: 29.11.2022).
 “Algeria ready to increase its gas deliveries to Europe”, Econostrum, https://en.econostrum.info/Algeria-ready-to-increase-its-gas-deliveries-to-Europe_a1297.html, (Date of Accession: 29.11.2022).
 “Algeria, Russia Hold Joint Military Exercise in Mediterranean” Anadolu Agency, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/algeria-russia-hold-joint-military-exercise-in-mediterranean/2715904, (Date of Accession: 29.11.2022)