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Enel ready to resume LNG plan as Italy steps up gas hunt

Randy Mancini 4 Mar 8
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Italian multinational energy company Enel is seen in Milan
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Italian multinational energy company Enel is seen at the Milan headquarters, Italy, February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo

March 8, 2022

By Stephen Jewkes and Angelo Amante

MILAN (Reuters) -Italy’s biggest utility Enel is ready to dust off plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in southern Italy as Rome steps up efforts to find alternative supplies to replace Russian gas.

In comments to Reuters on Tuesday Enel said it was useful for Italy to have two additional LNG terminals so as to be less tied to gas pipelines.

“For this reason, Enel has given availability to resume the Porto Empedocle LNG plant project, that is fully permitted,” an Enel spokesperson said.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Italy has ramped up efforts to secure alternative sources of gas, with LNG-rich Qatar a particular focus of attention.

Italy aims to become independent of Russian gas imports within 24-30 months, Energy Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said on Tuesday.

Italy, which uses gas to generate some 40% of electricity, imports more than 90% of its gas needs with Russian flows accounting for around 40%. It has other pipeline connections to Algeria, Azerbaijan, Libya and the North Sea but only three LNG terminals.

Two sources said Rome was eager to install at least one floating LNG terminal, or FSRU.

One of the sources said energy group Eni and gas infrastructure group Snam had been asked to help out on the logistics including looking for the FSRU to charter.

Other European countries are seeking to build LNG facilities to wean themselves off Russian gas. On Saturday Germany unveiled plans for a terminal.

Eni and Snam declined to comment. The Industry and Ecological Transition ministries were not immediately available for a comment.

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Angelo Amante; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Keith Weir)