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Italy May Declare State Of Alert If Russian Gas Cuts Persist

Italy may declare next week a state of alert if natural gas supplies from Russia continue to be limited, government sources told Reuters on Friday.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Italy sourced around 40% of the gas it uses from Russia. Italy has sought to diversify its gas imports with more supply from North African producers, but it still is a major consumer of Russian gas.

The state of alert is the second step in Italy’s gas emergency protocols. The country has been in a state of pre-alert since February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, while the third stage of the protocol is a state of emergency.

If reductions persist in the coming days, the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition could decide next week that Italy move from the current state of pre-alert to a state of alert, sources in the ministry told Italian news agency ANSA on Friday.

A state of alert would include rationing gas supply to some industrial users, increased gas imports from other suppliers, and increased production at coal-fired power plants, among others.

Throughout this week, Italy has been receiving decreased volumes of gas from Russia, with cuts deepening every day since Tuesday. Earlier this week, Russian supply to Italy was cut by 15%. The cut deepened to 35% of requested volumes for Thursday, and on Friday, Italy’s energy major Eni flagged additional cuts to deliveries. Eni will receive just half of the volumes requested for the day, it said.

Commenting on the lower supply from Russia, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday that the Russian “technical reasons” for reduced deliveries were “lies.”

“Germany, we, and others believe that these explanations are lies and that gas is being used as a political tool, just like grain is,” Draghi said. 

The Russian cuts to supply to Italy, as well as to Germany, coincided with the visit in Kyiv of the leaders of Germany, Italy, and France, who met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to show support to Ukraine.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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