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Italy has signed an agreement to increase natural gas imports from Angola in a bid to minimise its dependence on Russian energy, in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two nations agreed to develop new activities in the natural gas sector and implement joint projects to help with the energy transition and decarbonisation of Angola.

The joint energy projects would involve renewables and liquified natural gas (LNG), reported Bloomberg News.

Italy recently signed deals with Algeria and Egypt amid European countries’ efforts to secure alternatives sources to Russian supplies.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said: “Today we have reached another important agreement with Angola to increase gas supplies. Exactly one month after my first visit to Angola, Italy’s commitment to differentiate sources of energy supply is confirmed.”

Italian Minister of Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani said: “This is an important agreement that gives impetus to the partnership between Italy and Angola in the sectors of renewables, biofuels, LNG, and training in the technological and environmental fields.

“Not only a step forward in the diversification of gas sources, but also an important contribution to supporting the global ecological transition.”

Di Maio and Cingolani are scheduled to visit Angola and Congo this week to sign additional deals for LNG supplies.

An undisclosed source was cited by Reuters as saying: “The idea is to source around six billion cubic metres of new gas per year, when the projects are fully up to speed, from 2024.

Italy imports approximately 40% of its gas from Russia and has already signed deals with Egypt and Algeria to replace the 29 billion cubic metres it receives from Russia.

Amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Japan’s biggest oil refiner, Eneos, said it will not buy crude oil from Russia and would consider purchasing alternative supplies from the Middle East, reported Reuters.

ENEOS Holdings chairman Tsutomu Sugimori told reporters: “For now, we intend to get alternatives from existing trading partners such as Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait, but we will continue our efforts to diversify our sources to reduce reliance on the Middle East in the future.”