Eni is working with Gazprom and Austria to restore Russian natural gas flows to Italy after supplies were halted on Saturday in an apparent scuffle over regulation.
The Italian energy giant intends to evaluate options with Gazprom and the Austrian operator to unlock gas supplies to Italy, an Eni spokesman said in a statement on Monday. But it’s premature to provide details before the practicality of the options is shared among the parties involved, he said.
The cutoff appeared to target just Italy, which gets Gazprom’s supplies from a pipeline that passes through Austria. While Italy has been weaning itself off Russian gas, Saturday’s development highlights the vulnerability of European nations to President Vladimir Putin’s moves to choke off energy to the continent. The standoff intensified last week after suspected sabotage on the Nord Stream gas links under the Baltic Sea.
“This is a contract issue between Gazprom and Eni that should be cleared up in the next couple days,” said Carola Millgram, head of gas regulation at Austria’s E-Control. The issue relates to new contract that Gazprom has yet to adopt, the country’s regulator said.
Disputes over contractual clauses and regulation have accompanied the meltdown in economic ties between Russia and countries to its west, as Putin continues his war against Ukraine. Earlier this year, Russia’s demand for gas deliveries to be paid in ruble contributed to soaring prices.
On Saturday, Gazprom said it was working to resolve the issue with Italian buyers. Eni confirmed the cutoff and said it was reaching out to the Russian gas supplier. Austria’s government also said it was working on the matter at a technical level.
— Gazprom (@GazpromEN) October 1, 2022
At the same time, higher volumes of Russian gas than recently were allocated to Vienna-based OMV, said spokesman Andreas Rinofner.
Italy once relied on Russia for about 40% of its gas imports, but has been aggressively cutting that dependence since the invasion in February. Italy has now sourced sufficient alternative supplies of gas from North Africa to make up for any shortfalls this winter if Russia were to cut off supplies, people familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg. Russian gas accounted for about 10% of Italy’s imports before the halt.
The cutoff of Italian gas comes days after underwater blasts crippled the key Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia with Europe. US President Joe Biden yesterday echoed the assessment of European leaders that the pipelines were sabotaged and added that Russian statements about the incident shouldn’t be trusted.