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Italy targeted by Russian energy giant

Gazprom, Russia’s massive energy firm, says the Italian market is one of its main priorities as it moves into Europe’s power generation sector. Gazprom’s growth in Italy has come into sharp focus during the World Energy Forum in Rome.

“The Italian market is one of the most interesting ones in Europe, and we have gas to deliver, and in combination of gas and electricity we’d like to be a market player there, because the situation with the supply demand is the following: the prices look good and we could enter a good project together with the good partners,” Gazprom’s CEO, Aleksandr Medvedev, said.

Russia’s Gazprom satisfies a quarter of Europe's gas needs.

Italian oil and gas companies seem unfazed by Gazprom’s growing strength.

Italy’s electricity giant Enel is investing more than US $6 billion into Russia, according to Marco Arcelli, who is in charge of developing Enel’s business in Russia and the CIS.

“We would like to present ourselves in Russia, and we would like to prove to you that we are good in the energy sector,” he said.

This year Enel bought a minority stake in the OGK-5 power plant and is now looking to boost it to a controlling one. Together with another Italian energy giant Eni, Enel also bought several oil fields in Siberia at a bankruptcy auction of an embattled oil giant Yukos.

Shortly before the auction, Enel and Eni cut a deal with Gazprom to sell the Russian gas monopoly 51 percent of the Siberian assets.

Critics said it was a signal that foreign energy companies in Russia must cultivate a good relationship with Gazprom.
Enel’s Arcelli doesn’t see anything wrong with that.

“Some people perceive Russia as being some kind of a dirigisme-type, hierarchical country. We think that in our sector this is an advantage because decisions are made faster and that’s very important for new projects where you have a long permitting process and decisions are to be made fast for the benefit of the projects,” he said.