Home » Energy, the historic overtaking of LNG: more gas arrives by ship and less by pipes

Energy, the historic overtaking of LNG: more gas arrives by ship and less by pipes

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Energy, the historic overtaking of LNG: more gas arrives by ship and less by pipes

ROMA — It had never happened. In the first two months of 2023, the natural gas arrived in Italy by ship exceeded the quantity of raw material arrived through the gas pipeline network. A first time ever, the result of another important fact for the Italian energy system: the collapse of imports from Russia.

LNG (liquefied natural gas that is transported on ships gas carriers) has in fact compensated for the collapse of imports from Russia. Gazprom’s supplies – the giant controlled by the Kremlin – which before the invasion of Ukraine guaranteed 40% of Italian needs in 2021 and 20.4% in 2022, last year they collapsed to 4.7% of the total. A figure also confirmed in the January-February period of 2024.

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A result which, according to gas market experts, can also be attributed to the entry into operation of the new regasification terminal in the port of Piombino. The purchase by the Snam group of the gas tanker Golar Tundra, suitably refitted, actually managed to offset the decline in imports from Norway and above all from Russia.

By the way, while Northern European countries have significantly increased purchases of LNG from Russia – which in 2023 reached unprecedented levels – in Italy only one load arrived last year, precisely at the Piombino regasifier. Not only that, demonstrating that LNG allows for greater flexibility and limits geopolitical “risks”, the cargoes by ship arriving in Italy in the last 14 months have arrived from 11 different countries: United States, Algeria, Qatar, Egypt, Spain, France, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Belgium and Angola.

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The data provided by Snam (company controlled by the Treasury, through Cassa Depositi Prestiti) they also confirm the new weight of the United States as a supplier country to Italy (as well as for the rest of the EU). In the first two months of the year, out of 42 loads arriving at the four regasification terminals active in Italy, 16 ships set sail from US plants, compared to 12 from Qatar and 10 from Algeria. In fact, the Americans guaranteed much of the Russian gas that ran out. Moreover, a double advantage for the USA: political, but also economicgiven that it allows Americans to have a new market where to allocate the surplus of gas that has been created now that technology allows the exploitation of large “shale” deposits, the gas extracted by crushing the rock layers.

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With the entry into service in Ravenna – next spring – of the second gas tanker transformed by Snam into a regasification plant, Russian supplies should head towards zero: in 2020 alone they were above 29 billion cubic meters. The two new plants thus increase the number of strategic infrastructures for LNG imports to five: in addition to Piombino and Livorno, gthe others are located at Panigaglia (La Spezia), off of Livorno and in front of the coasts of the province of Rovigo. The latter (managed by the Adriatic Lng company, of which Snam is the operating partner) has the greatest weight: in 2023, it guaranteed over 50% of all the LNG arriving in Italy. Overall, last year net imports of liquefied natural gas amounted to 16 billion cubic meters, out of a total of 61.5 billion.

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In this regard, it should be noted that Italian demand has been decreasing for two years: “thanks” to the last two particularly mild winters: last year the decrease was 10%. Data confirmed also in the first two months of 2023.

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