Gazprom has cut its gas supply to Italy by 15 per cent, says the Italian energy major Eni, a day after Russian flows to Germany were also reduced.
Eni on Wednesday said the state-owned Russian company had not provided a reason for the reduction and that it was monitoring the situation.
“Gazprom has announced a limited reduction in gas supplies for today, amounting to around 15 per cent. The reasons for the decrease have not been notified at the moment,” Eni said in a statement. The Italian government declined to comment.
Italy is the second-largest European buyer of Russian gas after Germany and has complied with Moscow’s demands for buyers to use a rouble payment mechanism to ensure gas continues to flow. Gazprom did not immediately provide a comment when contacted.
The drop in supply to Italy comes a day after Gazprom said it would reduce capacity on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 40 per cent, blaming the reduction on the delayed return of a vital piece of technical equipment that Siemens Energy said had been blocked by Canadian sanctions against Moscow.
The twin disruptions occurred as Italian prime minister Mario Draghi discusses plans to accompany German chancellor Olaf Scholz and French president Emmanuel Macron to Ukraine on Thursday. During this trip, the leaders would be expected to discuss Kyiv’s application to join the bloc as well as financial and military help to fend off Moscow’s military onslaught in the eastern Donbas region and southern coastal regions. Draghi has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine’s bid for EU membership.
Sergiy Makogon, chief executive of Ukraine’s state-owned gas transmission network, accused Gazprom of cutting supply to Italy and Germany to increase pressure on EU member states.
Gazprom could compensate for the reduced flows through Nord Stream 1 by pumping more gas through Ukraine’s transit system without “any additional costs”, Makogon said, adding that the Russian energy giant was at present pumping less than contracted volumes through Ukraine.
The supply cuts amounted to “escalation and [a] weaponisation of gas in order to increase pressure on the EU”, he said.
Gas prices in Europe have soared in the past year after Russia squeezed supplies ahead of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and as fears of supply disruptions grew, stoking inflation and a cost of living crisis for many countries.
European benchmark prices jumped more than 15 per cent on Tuesday to as much as €99 per megawatt hour after Gazprom’s Nord Stream 1 announcement and the news that a large liquefied natural gas export terminal in the US would be offline for at least three weeks following an explosion.
Prices rose further on Wednesday, climbing 4 per cent to €101 per megawatt hour in morning trading.
Additional reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya in Riga