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Italian Energy Hub Seen as Key to EU Goals

European energy policy is largely determined by Brussels and implemented by individual member states, but integral to improving European energy security are joint plans to turn Italy into Southern Europe’s energy hub.

It would be fed by pipeline natural gas  from North Africa and Caspian Sea gas fields, LNG by tanker from the Middle East, and ultimately from the Eastern Mediterranean for onward despatch to markets in Central Europe and the Balkans.

Figure 1: Overview of SNAM operations
Figure 1: Overview of SNAM operations
To contribute to  the EU environmental program, gas will replace coal after 2025 in power generation and act as a vital tool to balance the grid as output from renewable supplies increases. Moreover, both the EU and Italian government encourage the use of LNG in heavy goods vehicles and shipping.

Italy’s partially privatized gas transmission system operator, Società Nazionale Metanodotti (SNAM), is crucial to meet domestic and Europe’s  long-term economic, energy and environmental ambitions.

SNAM is responsible for transmission and distribution of natural gas throughout Italy, as well as construction of pipelines. With a market capitalisation of $16.3 billion (€13.9 billion) and an operating income of ($1.53 billion (€1.3 billion) in December 2016 it is roughly equivalent in size to Spain’s Enagas and the U.K.’s National Grid.

SNAM subsidiaries operate in Austria (TAG and GCA), France (Teréga) and the United Kingdom (Interconnector UK). SNAM is one of the main shareholders of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and is, therefore, the company most involved in projects for the creation of the Energy Union.

With little in the way of fossil fuels of its own, Italy is reliant on natural gas imports for about 90% of its needs and is highly dependent on Russia, Algeria and Libya. Second to crude oil, natural gas currently provides about 36% of Italy’s primary energy needs and LNG just 2%.

To boost  and diversify supplies of gas, Italy has built three LNG import facilities providing easy access to gas fields in Egypt, Israel, the U.S. and Qatar and is  involved in the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to gain  direct access to gas fields in the Caspian Sea (Figure 1). Read More

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