Italy looks at Mediterranean for alternatives to Russian gas

Italy could increase gas imports from Algeria, Libya and the Netherlands to counter any disruption of supplies from Russia, Deputy Industry Minister Claudio De Vincenti said on Monday as G7 energy ministers gathered in Rome.

“We are capable of rapidly increasing imports from the supplier countries … Libya, Algeria and the Netherlands,” De Vincenti told Reuters.

Italy, which generates more than 40% of its electricity from gas, is increasingly dependent on Russian gas as Algerian imports decline and Libyan supplies are limited by growing unrest in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Russia could cut off supplies to Ukraine unless it starts to pay off a gas debt, which Gazprom says stands at $3.5 billion (€2.5 billion).

Rome is placing increasing importance on completing the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to bring Azeri gas to Italy, but is also supporting the South Stream project, which will transport Russian gas bypassing Ukraine.

“South Stream remains crucial. We still believe the pipe’s arriving in Italy could be advantageous compared to an Austrian endpoint,” De Vincenti said.

The Rome government wants to turn Italy into a southern European gas hub able to transit African supplies into Europe as it develops reverse flow capabilities at its northern borders.

But De Vincenti said Italy was also looking at developing a gas link with the East Mediterranean, where recent gas discoveries off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus and Malta have raised hopes of fresh supplies for Europe.

“It could certainly be a possibility in the future … we’ll have to see in what form, whether pipeline or liquefied natural gas (LNG),” he said.

The ITGI – Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy – pipeline, developed by EDF’s Italian unit Edison, might be a candidate for the role, he said.

“The pipeline already has all the permits”.

Full article: Italy looks at Mediterranean for alternatives to Russian gas (EurActiv)

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