The cost of energy imports to Italy is set to double to 100 billion euros, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing Economy Minister Daniele Franco.
Rome cannot continue spending indefinitely to cushion the blow to the economy, the minister warned at the annual Ambrosetti business forum. He added that Italy’s high debt was reducing its room for maneuver in the future.
According to Franco, the increase of almost 60 billion euros, compared to the net cost of energy imports from Italy of 43 billion euros recorded last year, will represent around 3% of the country’s GDP in 2022.
The wild surge is expected to wipe out the net trade surplus with the rest of the world that Italy has recorded in recent years, the minister said.
“We are transferring a significant part of our purchasing power abroad”, he remarked.
Italy is believed to depend on imports for nearly 75% of its energy consumption, which increases its vulnerability to the current energy crisis raging in the region. At the beginning of the current year, Italy imported 40% of its gas from Russia, but in July the sanctions-hit country’s gas purchases fell to 25%. Thus, Italy has overtaken Germany in terms of reducing its dependence on Russian gas.
At the end of July, EU members agreed on a plan to reduce their gas consumption by 15% over the next few months. The measure aims to increase the bloc’s energy security by saving gas for the coming winter amid the growing energy crisis
Earlier, Italian state-owned Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said the country could survive the winter without Russian gas. He added that Italian gas storage facilities were 54% full in June, but expected to be 70-80% full by October.
On August 31, Eni announced that Gazprom had cut Italy’s gas supply from 27 million cubic meters to 20 million cubic meters. Beginning September 2, Gazprom completely cut off supply through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, citing technical issues.
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