HAVANA – Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal arrived Wednesday on an official visit to Cuba, which is currently seeking stable oil flows due to a drop in subsidized crude shipments from Venezuela.
Sellal was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno at Havana’s international airport and is scheduled to meet Thursday with Cuban President Raul Castro.
A few weeks ago, specialized media outlets reported that Algerian state oil company Sonatrach would ship around 515,000 barrels of crude to Cuba in October, although neither country has provided official confirmation.
The Communist-ruled Caribbean island is facing difficulty ensuring a steady supply of crude due to sharply lower imports from crisis-hit Venezuela – down 40 percent, according to state oil company PDVSA – in the first half of 2016.
Castro has responded by establishing contacts with oil-producing countries such as Russia, Algeria and Iran to mitigate the loss of that stable supply of subsidized crude, which Cuba receives in exchange for sending health and educational professionals to Venezuela.
Cuba and Algeria have had strong relations for many years, with Castro having made three visits to that North African country, most recently in May 2015 when he met with Sellal and long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Cooperation between Algiers and Havana currently encompasses sectors including health, tourism, the hydraulics industry, higher education and scientific research.
Ties are strongest in the health sector, with more than 900 Cubans currently working in Algeria as doctors or health technicians.