Italy achieves energy independence from Russia with new floating LNG import terminal

Alberto Brambilla, Bloomberg March 20, 2023

(Bloomberg) — Italy took a key step toward securing energy independence from Russia with the arrival of a new facility to import liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The Golar Tundra floating storage regasification unit docked Sunday night in Piombino, on the coast of Tuscany. The LNG terminal is one of two that will allow Italy to replace gas flows via pipeline from Russia, which are already near historic lows.

Italy imported around 40% of its gas from Russia before the invasion of Ukraine and moved quickly under Prime Minister Mario Draghi to reduce it, mostly thanks to flows from north African countries such as Algeria. Russia now accounts for less than 10% of Italy’s imports and the aim is to fully replace it by winter 2024, according to Eni SpA.

Italy’s state-controlled gas network operator Snam SpA bought the Golar Tundra last year and refurbished it as a floating LNG terminal in recent months. A second terminal is expected later this year in Ravenna, on the country’s eastern coast.

“Italy signed agreements with alternative countries to Russia for the import of approximately 18 billion cubic meters of gas per year,” Simona Benedettini, an independent gas market consultant, said in an interview. The Piombino terminal is of “vital importance to cut dependency from Russian gas, especially in view of the upcoming winter which may not be as mild as that of this year.”

The terminal is expected to be operational in May.

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