The Algerian state energy company Sonatrach has signed a deal with Italian firm ENI for a solar power plant, the 10MW photovoltaic facility will be launched before the end of 2016 in Ouargla in southern Algeria. It will supply the company’s Bir Rebaa field with electricity, allowing the gas to be used for other purposes, reported Reuters.

Eni’s CEO, Claudio Descalzi, said: “Eni is the first oil and gas company to reach a strategic agreement in the field of solar energy in Algeria, a country with an important potential,” according to United Press International. Furthermore, the Italian giant also has invested about $11.5b in energy work in Algeria in the five years ending in 2015 and produces more than 100,000b/d of oil equivalent from the country.

Algeria has the 10th-largest natural gas deposits in the world and is the third-largest supplier to Europe. Its exports have been in decline, however, because of lagging foreign investments and the International Monetary Fund warned its economy may be at risk from lingering weakness in oil prices.