Italy needs to accelerate efforts to refill gas storage for winter and examine how to help companies fund purchases given the high fuel price, the ecological transition minister said on Tuesday. Roberto Cingolani said last week that Italy’s gas inventories were 54% full. That compares to the European Union’s target across the bloc for 80% by October and 90% by November.
“We need to go very fast,” Cingolani told a conference in Rome, referring to Italian efforts to refill storage facilities. Italian energy group Eni said its request for gas supply from Russia’s Gazprom for Tuesday had been only partially confirmed, the seventh day in a row that Eni is receiving less gas than requested from Moscow.
The minister said he was looking at ways to help energy firms secure cheaper financing to fund gas for storage. A government source said a state guarantee was a potential option. “Gas currently is so expensive that operators cannot put money into it. We need to reflect on this issue,” Cingolani said.
A government’s emergency technical committee for gas is due to meet later on Tuesday to discuss potential measures to reduce gas consumption and help rebuild storage levels. Cingolani is expected to meet representatives from Italian major energy groups on Wednesday, sources have said.
Options being discussed include reducing gas supply to selected industrial users under existing contracts, ramping up production at coal power plants and seeking more gas imports from other suppliers. Cingolani said Rome favoured a cap on gas prices at a European level to help prevent price spikes. Commenting on diplomatic discussions about this issue, he said: “We will probably get something.”
“Companies are closing and families are in trouble not because there is a real lack of gas, but because someone behind a keyboard has decided to raise the price … a limit must be set,” the minister said.
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