Algeria is on track for more than 9 billion cubic meters (Bcm) per year of additional gas output in 2017 when three delayed projects in its southwest come online, a source at state-owned Sonatrach said.

The third-largest gas supplier to the EU, Algeria has struggled in recent years to increase production of crude and natural gas because of low foreign investment to boost output at maturing fields and work new production.

For a year, EU officials and energy firms have been pushing Algeria to adapt to more competitive markets, especially with the drop in crude prices, to attract the investment needed to pump more gas north again.

Among the projects are Touat Gas, set for February 2017 with an estimated output of 12.8 MMcm/d; Timimoun, set for March 2017 with 4.6 MMcm/d; and Reggane, set for June 2017 with 8 MMcm/d.

"The three projects will come online on time; the outcome will reinforce our position as a reliable gas exporter to Europe. No delays; the projects will be delivered in 2017," the Sonatrach source told Reuters.

"Further in the south, we have found a huge potential of gas around the fields of Akabli and Tidikelt, in addition to Alrar's project in the east that will deliver gas and oil," the source said.

A drop in European gas demand dented Algerian exports that were squeezed by slowing production at mature fields, low investment and rapidly increasing domestic need for gas to generate power.

Still, Sonatrach has invested to stabilize and increase production at its large mature fields and expects to bring five new gas fields online in the south despite delays from state bureaucracy.

Gas output is expected to reach 141.3Bcm in 2017, 143.9 Bcm in 2018, 150 Bcm in 2019 and 165 Bcm in 2020, according to a Sonatrach document.

In another advance, Algeria's Tiguentourine gas plant resumed full production for the first time since a militant attack in 2013, after its third train came back online. The plant, operated by BP Plc (NYSE: BP) and Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO), has a full capacity of 9 Bcm per year.

At its huge, mature Hassi R'mel Field, Sonatrach has engaged in boosting operations to help bolster production.

Sonatrach is also due to recuperate, by the end of 2017, important volumes of gas that have been injected in the past decades in Hassi Messaoud and its region.

Algeria is expected to export 50 Bcm in 2016 to Europe, which is an amount 15% higher compared with the amount exported in 2015, according to Sonatrach.

Algeria is seen as a natural partner for the EU  because it seeks to diversify energy supplies after the Ukraine conflict exposed the risks of relying too much on the bloc's top gas supplier, Russia.