Middle East crisis not impacting gas supply to Italy, Eni CEO says

By Francesca Landini

RAVENNA, ITALY (Reuters) – Italy is not facing any worries regarding gas supplies despite the current crisis in the Middle East, Eni’s <ENI.MI> chief executive said on Tuesday.

Speaking at an energy conference in Ravenna, Claudio Descalzi added that the conflict between Israel and Hamas was rather impacting gas prices but did not endanger imports.

“For the time being, there is nothing to worry about on the gas supply side, also because in those areas – apart from the (Tamar gas) field, which was stopped by Israel for precautionary reasons – there are no major impacts on gas production,” Descalzi said.

Descalzi was indirectly responding to the concerns that a potential escalation in the Middle East could create tensions with some gas-producing countries such as Algeria which has expressed support to the Palestine people.

Algeria became Italy’s biggest gas supplier last year, replacing Russia, with other African countries including Libya and Egypt also emerging as important gas providers thanks to Eni’s activism in these countries.

Speaking at the same press conference, Algeria’s energy minister confirmed the country’s commitment to supply gas to Italy, but also asked for more investments.

“Gas infrastructures need financial investments which are difficult to attract… we need regulatory frameworks that are more appealing to attract long-term investments,” Algeria’s Mohamed Arkab said.

Eni currently devotes more than 30% of its total investments to energy transition and plans to increase this percentage to 70% by 2030, the Eni CEO told journalists.

The Italian group is also working at a potential sale of a small stake of its low-carbon unit Plenitude to an investor.

“We are in advanced talks with a strategic investor on Plenitude,” Descalzi said, adding a deal that could set a floor for the value of Eni’s low-carbon unit was important in times of high volatility on markets.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Gavin Jones and David Gregorio)