Italy says gas not at risk from Russia-Ukraine row

13:43, 23 December 2008
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"This winter has been mild..."

The Italian government sees no risk of the country`s gas supplies being interrupted by a dispute between Russia and Ukraine, saying on Tuesday that Italy`s gas reserves are high after a mild beginning to the winter, Reuters reported.

"This winter has been mild, our gas reserves are at maximum levels," Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said in a statement.

"From a diplomatic point of view, we are, together with the rest of Europe, trying to help Russia and Ukraine resolve their dispute to avoid risks for third countries," he said.

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has warned it could cut off supplies to Ukraine if it fails to pay off its gas debts by year-end. Russia supplies Europe with a quarter of its gas needs, 80 percent of which goes through Ukraine pipelines.

In early 2006 a similar row led Russia to cut off supplies to Ukraine briefly, which had a knock-on impact in Europe and especially Italy. Kiev has said it is ready to guarantee the transit of Russia gas to the European Union in 2009.

The minister said Italian citizens "need not be worried."

But he said the "repeated occurrence of these energy risk situations" highlighted the need for Italy to "diversity its energy sources and the geographical spread of its supplies."


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