Just a few days after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy, Albania and Greece in support of the realization of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), and prior to the presentation of the National Energy Strategy by the Monti government in Italy, IAI organized a seminar with the aim of analyzing the role of natural gas in the country’s future energy picture.
Among the main topics discussed during the meeting were the relationships with foreign suppliers and the need to reform take or pay contracts; the risks related to security of supply and the prospects of diversification – in primis through the establishment of the South Corridor; the importance of Italy’s integration in the European market and the role of the country as gas hub; the urgency of improving the international governance processes, not only at the European level, but also towards neighboring markets such as North Africa and the Western Balkans.
The seminar was opened by the Under-secretary for Economic Development, Claudio de Vincenti, who highlighted the important points of the Strategy. After explaining Italy’s four key objectives, Prof. De Vincenti introduced the seven priorities of the document which will be submitted for public consultation shortly. The Under-secretary emphasized the need to reduce the spread in gas and electricity prices. The first step that the government has taken in this direction is the separation between Eni and Snam.
The Head of the Electricity and Gas Authority, Guido Bortoni, underlined how important it is for Italy to be more integrated into the European gas market, in order to achieve greater competitiveness and lower domestic prices. The President’s analysis focused on the nature of current international supply contracts, based on the take or pay clause and index-linked to the price of oil. He also mentioned the possibly of establishing a spot market for gas in Italy. The interventions that followed by Paolo Culicchi from the Gas Intensive Consortium, Francesco Giorgianni from Enel, Paolo Luca Ghislandi from Aiget and Alessandro Ortis, former President of the Electricity and Gas Authority, heated up the debate on take or pay contracts. Member of Parliament Federico Testa summarised the different positions, calling for a careful costs/benefits analysis of the present model to achieve a fair balance between the security guaranteed by long-term contracts and the price competitiveness of spot markets.
The Under-secretary for the Environment, Tullio Fanelli, defined the concept of gas hub as a place where anyone wishing to buy gas can be sure to find and obtain at any given time the desired volumes at a competitive price. The establishment of an efficient hub, he underlined, requires investments so as to be able to guarantee a structural overcapacity and redundancy in infrastructures for transport and storage. The importance of such an infrastructural development in the European context was also highlighted by Clara Poletti from the Electricity and Gas Authority. In her view, and as later underlined by Nicolò Sartori from the IAI, development of the South Corridor represents a strategic challenge to strengthen the security of Italian procurements and to increase the volume of gas available on the domestic market.
Daniele Bianchi from BP, an operator from the Shah Deniz Consortium, pointed out that the gas coming from Azerbaijan would allow Italy to reduce its energy costs and become integrated in the European market. Alessandro Busacca, Director for Global issues and G8/G20 processes, expressed the same opinion, underlining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ support for the TAP Project, sealed by the signing of the MoU in New York. This support was acknowledged by Kietjl Tungland, Managing Director of TAP, who defined the agreement a key political step to guarantee the credibility of the project in the eyes of the Azerbaijan government and the Shah Deniz consortium. Finally. Edoardo Zanchini from Legambiente expressed his position in favour of opening new routes for procurement, especially as an alternative to the drilling in the Italian seabed foreseen by the National Energy Strategy.
Finally Marco Margheri from Edison underlined how Italian integration in the European gas market is linked to improving the governance processes among the authorities of the different countries, and called for Italy to play a role in promoting governance not only in the EU, but also towards neighbouring markets such as North Africa and the Western Balkans.