Mario Draghi: Italy needs to reduce its dependence on gas

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Italy needs to reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports and is ready to take further steps to protect consumers from rising energy prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Mario Draghi told Reuters on Friday.

“Recent events show that it has been unwise not to diversify our energy sources and suppliers further in recent decades,” Mario Draghi told parliament.

He said Russia now supplies 45% of Italy’s gas imports, while domestic production has fallen.

Italy plans to increase liquefied natural gas imports from the United States, Draghi said, thanking US President Joe Biden for facilitating the move.

Italy also aims to increase the amount of gas imported from Azerbaijan, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.

Italian energy company ENI announced last week that it still has natural gas reserves in Italy and is ready to increase production if needed.

The head of the Italian government also said that gas storage facilities need to be improved, and called on the European Union to develop common storage mechanisms.

He warned that the reopening of coal-fired power plants may be needed to prevent short-term supply crises, and rejected the prospect of further measures to mitigate the impact of growing bills on households and businesses.

Last week, the Italian government approved measures of about 6 billion euros for this purpose, within a package of 8 billion euros to support the economy.