Press TV, Rome
The recent decision by Moscow to cut its gas supply to Rome by 15%, which was announced by fuel giant Eni earlier this week, did not catch the Mario Draghi’s government off guard albeit consumer confidence in Italy is at its lowest level in over 20 years.
On Saturday Italy’s ecological transition minister Roberto Cingolani said he remains confident that filling underground gas storage to 90% by winter - a requirement recently adopted by the Council of the European Union to strengthen the bloc’s energy security- is still a feasible target.
However, Minister Cingolani argued he expects prices to further surge particularly after a temporary closure of the Nord Stream pipeline for maintenance.
Italy is trying to wean itself off Russian gas, which currently accounts for 40% of total gas imports. That’s while prices in the country were 8% higher in June than a year earlier, marking the highest one-month increase in prices since 1986.
The energy crisis is being compounded by an unprecedented drought that is sweeping through Italy's northern and central regions. Experts have warned the drought will reduce the country’s hydro power output by 60% by the end of this year.
Lately, prime Minister Draghi has been facing problems protecting the government coalition that supports him. A rift has opened up with former prime minister Giuseppe Conte. That’s as former deputy PM Matteo Salvini has reportedly taken up arms against the executive. A government collapse at this very stage could have grave repercussions for Italy's social stability.