Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio headed Saturday to Qatar to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector, at a time when Italy intensified its efforts to secure new supplies of natural gas in light of the Ukrainian crisis.

Italy is seeking to strengthen relations in the energy sector with Qatar after the Ukraine crisis, and Italy is considered particularly vulnerable in the energy sector because it uses natural gas to generate 40% of its electricity, and imports represent more than 90% of its gas needs.

Highlighting the sudden effort to strengthen relations with Qatar, the gas-rich country in the Gulf, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also had a phone call with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Draghi's office said in a statement that the two sides discussed issues, most notably energy.

After the start of the Russian war on Ukraine, the West imposed severe sanctions on Moscow that threatened to disrupt Russian gas flows to Europe;

This threatens with crises in this commodity, power cuts and an increase in prices.

Last year, Italian imports from Russia reached 40%, and the government said it wanted to reduce its dependence on Russian imports.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Di Maio and Claudio Descalzi, head of the Italian energy group Eni, are scheduled to hold high-level talks in Qatar at the weekend.

This visit follows a visit by Di Maio and Claudio Descalzi to Algeria last Monday, where they requested an increase in Algerian gas supplies to Italy.