Chevron Corp has opened talks with Algeria to allow the U.S. oil firm to undertake energy exploration in the North African country, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Chevron has sent representatives in government relations, security and business development to the capital Algiers, some of whom have met Algerian officials in the past two months, the report added, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chevron plans to spend $17 billion on energy projects this year.

Algeria's energy sector had faced years of decline over the past decade, partly prompted by lower oil prices, but rebounded last year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the issuance of a new law governing investment.

Europe's attempt to wean itself off Russian gas has provided the country a shot in the arm, with Algerian supplies now accounting for more than a quarter of gas demand in Spain and Italy, each. State-owned Sonatrach is the third-biggest exporter to Europe after Russia and Norway.

The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)