“Gazprom announced that today it will supply to Eni volumes of gas for approximately 21 million cubic meters/day, while the average for the last few days was of about 32 million cubic meters/day,” Eni said.
The Russian energy giant had previously cut gas supplies to Italy over a period of several days in June amid mounting tensions between Russia and the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
At the time Gazprom blamed the shortfall on problems at its Portovaya plant which feeds the Nord Stream gas pipeline, through which Gazprom transports part of the volumes destined for Eni.
However, the move came just days after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Kyiv on a surprise joint visit with the leaders of France and Germany to show solidarity with Ukraine.
Draghi said the squeeze was a cynical retaliatory move by Moscow, and denounced Gazprom’s technical explanation as ‘lies’.
“We are seeing a political use of gas, just as we have seen a political use of wheat,” he said in reference to the millions of tons of wheat that were stuck in Ukrainian ports at the time.
“This is a (Russian) strategy that… must be faced and fought.”
Part of Gazprom’s gas supplies reach Italy via the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline (TAG), but some of it comes through the Nord Stream 1, which has now officially been shut off due to annual maintenance work.
The fear is that – with relations between Russia and the West at their lowest in years because of the invasion of Ukraine – Gazprom might take the opportunity to simply refuse to reopen the valves.
A long-term shutdown of the pipeline would hit EU countries – particularly Italy – hard, deepening an energy crisis in which uncertain supplies have pushed prices up ahead of Europe’s winter.