© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Duomo’s cathedral and Porta Nuova’s financial district are seen in Milan, Italy, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s business lobby Confindustria forecasts an almost 2% hit on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on average per year in 2022 and 2023 in case of a stop of imports from Russia in June, it said in a research note.

“A halt of gas imports from Russia could have a very strong effect on the already weakened Italian economy,” Confindustria said, adding the negative consequences would come from a major shortage of gas volumes for industry and services and an additional increase in energy costs.

Last year Russia was Italy’s biggest supplier of natural gas, providing 29 billion cubic metres or 40% of total gas imported by the country.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Italian government has been seeking alternative energy suppliers and its ministers have travelled to Africa and the Middle East to secure new contracts.

As part of this effort, Italy’s energy group Eni and Algeria’s Sonatrach on Thursday signed a deal to accelerate the development of gas fields in Algeria and of green hydrogen.

This move is expected to boost the North African country’s gas exports to Italy by some 3 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year.

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