On the backdrop of the very first EU-Algeria Energy Business Forum, European Union officials and energy firms urged Algeria to adapt to more competitive energy markets so as to attract the investment needed to pump more gas north again after years of dwindling exports, Reuters reported.

With the vast proven gas reserves and the ideal weather conditions for the production of renewable energy, Algeria is a crucial partner for the EU in its continuous drive to diversify its energy supplies and strengthen energy security, the European Commission wrote. “Algeria needs to bring in more investment if it is to maintain its exports to the EU in the long term,” EU Climate and Energy Commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, said in the Forum, in the capital city of Algeria. “If this continues in the long term, then Algeria’s position as a key supplier may be compromised,” Canete added.

Algeria’s long-term gas contracts to Europe are due to expire through 2021, and European companies are pushing for more flexible deals given the more competitive gas market, though Algerian officials appear committed to long-term arrangements.

The country has dozens of projects, mostly in its southern Sahara, that the government expects to generate new production and help keep its flow of gas exports to Europe stable. But it has failed to attract the investment needed to discover and develop new fields and maintain old ones.