Italian manufacturers are cutting production to save energy, a government official says


An aerial view of the SNAM underground gas storage facility in Minerbio, Italy, June 11, 2021. Picture taken with a drone June 11, 2021. REUTERS/Alex Fraser

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MILAN, Aug 21 (Reuters) – Energy-intensive industries in Italy are changing production to save energy while struggling with soaring bills, a senior official at the ministry for ecological transition said on Sunday.

“There are entire industries, the glass and canning industries, where rationing in the form of self-rationing has already begun, albeit silently,” said Massimiliano Atelli, who heads the ministry’s committee that assesses the environmental impact of new renewable plants.

“But that’s not without a cost, a social cost…because the moment production slows down, we should think about those who work in these industries,” he told a conference.

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Italy, which imported nearly 40% of its gas from Russia last year, recently struck deals with several alternative gas-producing countries to reduce its dependence on Moscow. Half of the gas is burned to generate electricity.

These deals have allowed Rome to quickly fill up its gas storage facilities, but they have not been enough to protect its industries from skyrocketing energy costs.

Entrepreneurs and politicians are therefore criticizing the government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, which, unlike in Germany, has so far seen no need for government measures to ration gas.

Attending the same conference, a senior official from Italy’s gas network operator Snam (SRG.MI) said the country’s gas storage system would be 80% full in the next few days.

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Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Philippa Fletcher

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