Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Italy has announced plans to reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports. Currently, they account for more than 40% of the country’s consumption.
Having initially come under fire from some EU member states for its reluctance to impose sanctions against Russia, Italy ultimately threw its weight behind the move, ending up on Moscow’s blacklist, RFI reports.
Imports cover approximately 95% of Italy’s natural gas consumption, with gas accounting for about 42% of the country’s overall energy consumption.
Germany is also heavily reliant on Russian gas imports, with natural gas accounting for roughly 25% of overall energy consumption. Approximately 55% of German gas purchases come from Russia.
On Wednesday, Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, told parliament that weaning the country off Russian gas “must be done”, stressing that “our security and our freedom are at stake.”
The EU member state plans to increase its gas production from 3.34 to 5 billion cubic metres annually. It also plans to increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from the US.
Diversification of sources
Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, visited Algeria, its second-largest supplier of natural gas, in February, looking to secure more deliveries. Meanwhile, Draghi has been in touch with Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to discuss increased LNG deliveries.
Italy’s Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, predicted that it would take Italy “24 to 30 months” to become independent from Russian gas imports.
Manlio Di Stefano, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, stressed that while Italy was preparing “for a war economy”, it was “hoping not to get there.”
He summed up the situation with a stark warning: “If the gas supply were cut off, we would have two weeks of full autonomy, two weeks without industry, and then total darkness.”
Simone Tagliapietra, a professor of energy at the Catholic University of Milan, has said she is confident that Italy can “import more LNG and reactivate coal-fired power plants to avoid this scenario, so there will be no blackouts.” She also noted that, by her calculations, the EU would be paying Russia some one billion euro per day for energy imports starting from April.