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Russia's state-controlled Gazprom PJSC suspended natural gas deliveries to Italy, escalating the energy crisis in Europe.
"As of today Gazprom is no longer delivering gas to Eni," said a spokesman for Eni SpA, Italy's largest oil company.
Gazprom supplies Italy with gas through a pipeline that passes through Austria. The cutoff appeared to target just Italy, with Austria continuing to receive gas. Higher volumes of Russian gas were allocated to OMV than had been recently, said Andreas Rinofner, a spokesman for OMV, which imports Russian gas to Austria,
Gazprom released a statement Saturday saying it had suspended gas flows through Austria to Italy because the Austrian operator had refused to confirm "transport nominations" after regulatory changes implemented in Austria in late September. Gazprom said it is working to resolve the issue with Italian buyers. Eni also said it was reaching out to Gazprom to resolve the issue. E-control, Austria's energy regulator, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
European countries have been rushing to find alternatives to Russian gas and protect against supply interruptions as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to choke off energy to the continent to put pressure on the European Union over several rounds of sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The standoff intensified this week after massive leaks erupted in a key pipeline to Europe that some nations blamed on sabotage.
Italy has sourced sufficient alternative supplies of gas from North Africa to make up for any shortfalls this winter if Russia were to cut off exports to the country, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last month. A boost of expected deliveries from Algeria and Egypt will be able to cover the remaining supplies that Italy was still getting from Russia, said the people.
The cutoff of Italian gas comes days after underwater eruptions crippled the key Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia with Europe. US President Joe Biden yesterday echoed the assessment of Western European leaders that the pipelines were sabotaged and added that Russian statements about the incident shouldn't be trusted.
Read more: Biden Says Nord Stream Leak Was 'Deliberate Act of Sabotage'
In response to the attacks, Norway's armed forces stepped up patrols of the country's energy facilities and Germany, France and the UK offered to help protect oil and gas installations in the North Sea. NATO is also using its naval and air capabilities to monitor the Baltic and North Seas.
With Nord Stream out of commission, there is now just one major pipeline bringing natural gas straight to Europe. And that route, which passes through Ukraine, is looking increasingly vulnerable. That pipeline has already had part of its supply knocked out by the war, and could turn out to be the next to close as the conflict drags on.
(Adds Gazprom comment in third paragraph)
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