Stefano Venier, Snam CEO
Venier: “10 billion investments in Snam’s future”
Stefano Venier confirms and renews his commitments. The next investment plan will exceed the previous two billion strategic allocation, thus underlining a path of intervention and “updating” already implemented in the past. After a discussion before leaving for Dubai, the CEO of Snam outlines the next phase, during which on 25 January the group will present the new strategic plan to 2027 and will engage with the market on Capital Market Day to illustrate the direction of the main European operator in gas transport, with over 38 thousand kilometers of “pipe” networks, storage capacity of 16.5 billion cubic meters and regasification facilities (Panigaglia and Livorno, as well as a minority participation in Rovigo and the more recent Ravenna and Piombino). Il Economia del Corriere tells it.
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The objective of ensuring national energy reserves was achieved, with stocks now at 99%, and the Piombino operation was completed with the arrival of the Golar Tundra, the regasification ship that received post-event recognition – demonstrating that it did not cause excessive damage to the territory, contrary to the highly exaggerated Nimby concerns – and already engaged in the final phase in Vado Ligure, where the ship will arrive in 2026 (with maximum availability to examine all the variations), Venier explains that the new plan will be based on the most recent achievements. “We will capitalize on what we have done this year both in infrastructural and financial terms. The plan we will present in January – states Venier – it will be an evolution of projects already underway, such as the one on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Ravenna with Eni, the most significant in Southern Europe, which will begin to inject the first quantities of carbon dioxide by half of 2024. Then there is the Hydrogen Valley which will be built in Modena with Hera, all within the scope of the new sustainability strategy, to which will be added the strengthening of the Adriatic network, which was one of the central themes of the recent Italian-Italian confrontation German about ten days ago (in which the manager participated directly, ed.). We are preparing with the financial resources to cover over 10 billion in investments and we will maintain the approach that led us to anticipate of one year the objective of making the financing sustainable: over 80% of our debt is already green, and this is appreciated by the market, so much so that the ESG institutional investors in Snam’s capital have passed, as an analysis reminds us of the Nasdaq, from 43% in January to the current 47.3%”.
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The distribution of Snam’s shareholders is a point of reference for a public company and with a regulated business: controlled with just over 31% by Cdp Reti, it has a share of institutional investors of around 51%, a “package” held for over 35% in the United States and Canada, for almost 24 % from continental European investors and over 26% from the UK and Ireland. As of last week it had a capitalization of over 15 billion. In Dubai, Venier brings an “optimistic realism”, probably also deriving from his scientific training, tempered by a ten-year career as a top manager, which saw him at the helm of Hera for almost a decade. “At COP 28 – explains Snam’s number one, with thirty years of experience in energy and utilities – we arrive between lights and shadows: the results on the road to keeping temperatures within 1.5 degrees provided for in the Paris Agreements are not sufficient. UNEP’s Adaptation Gas Report 2023 shows that countries’ current commitments put us on a 2.4-2.6 degree increase trajectory by the end of the century. But let’s not forget that, at the beginning of this journey, the trajectory was 4 degrees global warming. Today ideological positions leave more room for pragmatism.
It’s not all bad. The same IEA, the International Energy Agency, certified a month ago that solar energy production has quadrupled. The peak in emissions should arrive in 2030, ten years ahead of the forecasts of a few years ago, and in recent days, in the summit between Biden and Xi, it emerged that Chinese commitments on investments for the energy transition will be strengthened. It is a challenging path, we are trying to activate a transition in a third of the time that was necessary for similar phases in previous historical periods. There is no protocol, there is no “killer” technology. The ‘fuel’ is provided by nature, but the capital required is increasingly greater”. In short, in the presence of a great need for capital, shorter timescales and technologies in the development phase, Venier supports “the need for an agnostic approach ” to the solutions to be adopted to overcome the challenge of climate change: an example are the prospects opened by the evolution of CCS technology and Direct Air Capture (DAC). In general, the CEO of Snam supports the need not to make a priori choices, from hydrogen to nuclear power. “The characteristics of each country or geographical area should be taken into consideration. As Europe’s motto says? United in diversity? Well, I believe that is the right spirit for COP 28 too. In our case, we proceed thinking that the world of electrons is not in competition with that of molecules, they are complementary universes”. If the “miracle solution” is missing, we look at the possible, which is no small thing: in recent days the European Commission has recognized and included in the list of (166) Projects of Common Interest (PCI) the projects that directly involve Snam on hydrogen and Ravenna.
More precisely, the South2H2 Corridor is now a project of European interest, a corridor that will cross Italy, Austria and Germany to supply, as expected, four million tonnes per year of “renewable” hydrogen from Northern Africa (Algeria and Tunisia, but also from Southern Italy), out of a target of ten set by Brussels. And among the PCIs there is also the CO2 collection and storage project which will have its arrival point in Ravenna, in collaboration with Eni. With an estimated investment of 1.8 billion, it will redo the province of Romagna for thirty years after the dream of Ferruzzi-Montedison and Raul Gardini, the capital of the intersection (virtuous, this time) between fossil energy and sustainable development. “In an area where a strong industrial culture is rooted – notes Venier – it will be possible to develop a project capable of storing up to 500 million tonnes of CO2 at the service of the most energy-intensive industry, in the Po Valley and in France. It will be fully operational from 2027, but the first “injections” will take place from the middle of next year”. Ravenna is not Vado, it is not Piombino and not even Melendugno, the Apulian terminal of the Tap, recognizes Venier, “but look, the Nimby syndrome it is also very present elsewhere. In Germany, for example, even recently.”
The implicit suggestion is to let the projects mature, leaving it up to the concrete advantages for the territories and citizens to appreciate their goodness. A small example: the presence of Snam plants and restorations in the area, between Rimini and Pesaro, explains Venier, has made it possible to contain the damage caused by the flooding of the Marecchia river in various areas. Another example on another scale: the financing of over 400 million intended for the Adriatic Line, following the redesign of the PNRR accepted in recent days by Europe, is an intervention that will reduce the capital remunerated by Italian tariffs. Among many uncertainties, the manager maintains, there is an appreciable coherence in many of the policies followed thus far: “In our case little can be blamed on the policy that manages a tight timetable and strategic works of such complexity”. It may not be valid for everything, but the general picture appears coherent. However, Snam has an agenda full of commitments on which to verify the validity of the choices: “On Friday 1 December we presented a preliminary non-binding offer” for the Edison storage facilities in Collalto (Treviso), Cellino (Teramo), San Polito and Cotignola (Ravenna). Three sites that are “worth” a billion cubic meters of gas: “It’s not Snam’s transforming deal, but we’re there.”
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