Europe can limit its dependence on Russian energy through diversification “in a relatively short time,” Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in an interview with Corriere della Sera published on Sunday.
“We no longer want to depend on Russian gas, because economic dependence must not become political subjugation,” he said. “To do this, we need to diversify energy sources and find new suppliers.”
To wean itself from Russian energy, Italy’s Eni signed a deal with Algeria’s Sonatrach earlier this month to receive an additional 9 billion cubic meters of gas by next year and in 2024. “Other countries will follow,” Draghi said. “Diversification is possible and feasible in a relatively short time, shorter than we imagined just a month ago.”
As it stands, Russia supplies around 40 percent of Italy’s natural gas and 45 percent of the EU’s imported gas.
Draghi also said Italy’s proposal to put a cap on the price of natural gas “is gaining support” in the EU. The bloc agreed to end coal imports in early April and there’s pressure for that to be extended to oil and gas.
“Europe continues to finance Russia by purchasing oil and gas, among other things, at a price that has no relation to historical values and production costs,” said Draghi.
When asked about winter and the risk of an industrial production slowdown if there is a gas shortage, Draghi responded by saying Italy was well-positioned with gas in storage and new gas from other suppliers.
“Even if containment measures were to be taken, these would be mild,” he said, adding these would include reducing heating by 1 degree to 2 degrees and making similar changes when it comes to air conditioners.
Draghi also said the goal would be to quickly invest in sources of renewable energy. “Up to now, the obstacle has been essentially of a bureaucratic and authorization nature,” he said. “We can no longer afford these vetoes.”