Italy wants to become fully independent from Russian gas within two years, the country’s Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, told the media on Monday.
"We import 29 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia. These must be replaced", Agenzia Italia quotes the minister. According to Cingolani, Italy has taken emergency measures to replace half of Russian gas from other sources before “late spring”. To become fully independent, “24-30 months should be enough”, the minister hopes.
Europe imports 45-46% of its gas from Russia, and to reduce the dependence, the bloc must import from other countries, increase the use of renewable energy sources and improve overall efficiency, the state broadcaster RAI cites Cingolani.
Italy has been negotiating with Algeria and Qatar to compensate for a possible drop in Russian supplies. Rome also intends to build more LNG terminals and bring coal-fired power plants to full capacity, if necessary.
Gas prices on the continent, however, continue breaking price records, hitting $3900 per 1,000 cubic meters on Monday, despite steady supplies from Russia. On Tuesday morning, the gas was trading at over $2,400 per 1,000 cubic meters on the TTF hub in the Netherlands. Russian energy giant Gazprom confirmed on Tuesday that it’s fully meeting its transit obligations.
The price hikes are fueled by fears that the crisis in Ukraine may lead to a halt in deliveries, either due to sanctions or because of possible pipeline damage. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday that Russia could halt the gas flow to Europe along Nord Stream - the main gas pipeline from Russia to Germany - in response to the pressure from the EU.
"European politicians need to honestly warn their citizens and consumers what to expect," Novak said, referring to possible negative impact on energy prices for the end consumer in Europe.
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