“I think that we will have to stop supplies of gas from Russia soon for ethical reasons,” minister Roberto Cingolani told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper.
Cingolani has just returned from a two-day trip to Angola and Congo Republic seeking energy deals as Italy scrambles to reduce its dependency on Russia, which provides about 45 percent of Italy’s gas supply.
“We are diversifying our sources with great speed,” he said.
“It is clear that all of Europe is heavily dependent on Russia for gas, and this has been a major geopolitical mistake made over the past 20 years,” he said.
“It is useless to think that we can solve it in a month. From a certain point of view, however, this money is a lot… we are indirectly financing the war.”
Cingolani predicted the country would no longer need Russian gas within 18 months.
Just two weeks earlier, he had said he expected it to take up to three years to wean the country off Russia’s gas supply.
“By the second half of next year we will really begin to have an almost complete independence,” he told La Stampa.
Italy is one of Europe’s biggest consumers of gas, which currently represents 42 percent of its energy consumption, and it imports 95 percent of the gas it uses.
The foray into Angola and the Congo Republic follows the clinching of gas agreements with Algeria and Egypt in recent weeks.
The government also says it will soon sign off on its so-called “operation thermostat”, which is expected to mean the public sector is forced to use less heating and air conditioning, and the general public will be called on to follow suit.