Italy warns it will take longer to achieve independence from Russian gas


Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi warned on Thursday that Italy will achieve independence from Russian gas by the second half of 2024, which implies more time than initially calculated.

The eurozone’s third-largest economy relies heavily on Russian gas but has been looking for new sources since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including through a deal to boost supplies from Algeria.

In an intervention in the Senate, Draghi assured that his government seeks to promote the production of renewable energy and hopes to annul “the bureaucratic barriers” for that investment.

It is the “only way” to free Italy from having to import fossil fuels.

“The estimates made by the government indicate that we can become independent of Russian gas in the second half of 2024,” he assured the parliamentarians, so “the first effects” of that plan will be recorded at the end of that year, he added.

In April, Italy’s Minister for the Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, estimated that the country could become independent of Russian gas in the second half of next year when questioned about Italy’s energy plans.

This is a sensitive issue since Italy imports 40% of its natural gas from Russia. The government launched a real diplomatic offensive in Africa to sign agreements with Egypt and the Republic of the Congo in addition to Algeria and has had contacts with Angola.

Rome uses “the excellent relations” that the Italian energy giant Eni has forged during 69 years of presence in Africa, where it is the leader both in terms of production and reserves, Davide Tabarelli, head of the Nomisma think tank, told AFP in April. Energy.

The Italian government nonetheless reiterated its strong support for European Union sanctions against Moscow, including a proposal to ban imports of Russian oil, which Hungary has so far blocked.

“We must continue to maintain pressure on Russia through sanctions, because we must force Moscow to sit at the negotiating table,” Draghi said.