Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Russia is ready to deliver more natural gas if Italy needs it, Russia’s Ambassador to Italy, Sergey Razov, said at an Italy-Russia business forum in Milan on Thursday.
Russia is the largest natural gas supplier to Italy. In December last year, a total of 41 percent of Italy’s natural gas imports were coming from Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, according to Italian news outlet Il Giorno.
This winter, however, Russian supply to Europe as a whole has been lower than typical as Gazprom has not been shipping via pipeline too much gas over its contractual obligations with customers. This, combined with low gas storage levels at European sites, has resulted in a natural gas crunch in Europe and record-high prices that pushed up power prices and burdened many energy-intensive businesses in Europe.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, Russia’s pipeline exports declined by close to 25 percent annually due to lower transit flows via Belarus and Ukraine and reduced deliveries to Turkey, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its quarterly report.
The agency was among the many voices in the industry to blame Russia for the energy crisis in Europe.
Low natural gas deliveries from Russia appear to have artificially tightened the European gas market, the IEA’s Executive Director Fatih Birol said earlier this month, adding that energy systems “face significant risks” by relying too much on one supplier for a key energy source.
Italy, like the rest of European governments, is looking to contain the impact of soaring energy bills on households and businesses. The Italian government is preparing a new support package for households and businesses to the tune of up to $8 billion (7 billion euro) to guarantee “adequate support” for the second quarter of 2022.