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Italian minister says expanding Nord Stream-2 to complicate EU energy market

The minister says Italy supports keeping the Russian gas transit through Ukraine

ROME, October 5. /TASS/. Italy does not see any strategic advantages for itself in the Nord Stream-2 project and believes that increasing Nord Stream pipeline’s capacity will only complicate the situation on the European energy market, Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda said in an interview with TASS.

"We are asking a reasonable question on how appropriate this project (Nord Stream-2) is from industrial and strategic points of view, taking into account scenarios of energy consumption in Europe and ensuring energy security based on the idea of diversifying routes. In other words - how economically rational it is to concentrate such large volumes of gas in one point of Northern Europe," the minister said, expressing the stance of the Italian government on that issue.

According to the minister, this would lead to a significant branching of the current flows within the European network as well as to the increase of transport capacities in the interests of specific EU countries and expansion of storage facilities.

"All this leads to an increase in tariffs for delivery and this burden will be shouldered by European consumers, because gas importers are the ones who have to cover any extra costs. This will affect the market and competition in different European regions, leading to gaps in prices and distortions in competitiveness for European companies," he said. 

"Thus, it seems expanding Nord Stream’s capacity does not have any advantages for Italy and could complicate conditions of Russian gas supplies," Calenda explained.

The minister affirmed that Italy has enough gas volumes in storages for the coming winter and does not expect any problems related to any possible disruptions of gas transit through Ukraine.

Calenda said that in general, Italy supports keeping the Russian gas transit through Ukraine.

"We believe that all parties concerned should exercise the utmost responsibility, and we appreciate the European Commission's efforts to maintain the gas transit through Ukraine in the future," he told TASS.

Russia-Italy partnership

Earlier on Wednesday, Calenda had a meeting with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who headed the Russian delegation at the meeting of the Bilateral Council on Economic, Industrial and Financial Cooperation.

He stressed Rome considers Moscow its irreplaceable partner from both economic and political points of view. Calenda pointed out that although there was a significant drop in bilateral trade turnover in 2015 and the trend continued in the first half of 2016, the trade ties between Russia and Italy were solid and consistent.

"An impressive Italian delegation headed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, that took part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June, which testifies to our positive approach and determination to boost cooperation with Russia. As far as trade is concerned, our goal is to compensate for the losses in trade turnover over the past two years focusing on the traditional fields of our exports, from the agricultural and food products to equipment and pharmacology," the minister explained.

Calenda said that there was a considerable potential for enhancing bilateral cooperation in the sphere of industry and investments. He was also confident that the Russian-Italian Council could help create conditions for boosting cooperation between the two countries.

According to the Italian Ministry for Economic Development, in 2014, Italy’s investments in Russia reached € 7.4 billion, at the time almost 600 Italian companies were presented at the Russian market. "The energy sector, aerospace sector and high technologies have key importance for our investors, as well as agriculture, construction, chemistry and pharmaceutical industry. In 2014, around 80 Russian companies were active in Italy," the minister noted.

"I think that there are many promising opportunities in the sphere of industry, too. We can utilize the potential of our small and medium-sized enterprises and also the possibilities offered by Russia which include the special economic zones, technoparks and industrial parks," Calenda added.