Italian industry seeks ‘all it takes’ to release gas to cut prices – sources

MILAN, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Italian industry lobbies will ask Rome on Wednesday for a release of gas from strategic reserves at a meeting to help deal with rising energy prices threatening a post-recovery recovery. -pandemic, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Soaring gas prices have caught energy-intensive industries such as steel, paper and ceramics on the wrong foot, leaving them with the choice between passing on rising costs and reducing or stopping production.

A meeting between Italian Industry Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti and industry associations later on Wednesday will discuss measures to help offset high energy bills.

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“A release of gas from strategic reserves would be a ‘whatever it takes’ signal to the market to temper speculation,” one of the sources said.

The comments referred to former European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, who said in 2012 that the ECB would do whatever was necessary to save the euro. Draghi took office as Italian Prime Minister last year and has put energy at the heart of his agenda.

On Tuesday, Italy’s energy transition minister outlined a package of measures Rome was considering to cut energy bills as high gas prices are set to last longer than expected.

Giorgetti, a leading member of the right-wing ruling coalition party, the League, sides with lobby demands for a release of gas, sources told Reuters earlier this week, but the final word on reservations strategies belongs to Draghi. Read more

Draghi’s office declined to comment on the likelihood of reserves being released.

Italy’s cabinet is expected to discuss further steps to reduce energy prices on Thursday, sources said.

Italy has about 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas storage capacity, including 4.5 bcm of strategic reserves that cannot be used without government authorization and only in case of emergency.

A second industry lobby source acknowledged the technical and legal difficulties in using strategic stocks, but called the current situation an emergency.

“The choice is between depleting supplies as we head into spring or reaching spring with stocks intact but the industry on its knees.”

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Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Jan Harvey

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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