© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of the SNAM underground gas storage facility in Minerbio, Italy, June 11, 2021. Picture taken with a drone on June 11, 2021. REUTERS/Alex Fraser


MILAN (Reuters) – Energy-intensive industries in Italy are modifying their production to save energy as they struggle with soaring bills, a top official at the ecological transition ministry said on Sunday.

“There are entire industrial sectors, the glass and canning industry, where rationing, in the form of self-rationing, has already begun, albeit silently,” said Massimiliano Atelli, who heads the ministry’s committee that evaluates the environmental impact of new renewable energy plants.

“But this is not without costs, social costs… because the moment production slows down we should think about those who work in those industries,” he said, speaking at a conference.

Italy, which last year got nearly 40% of the gas it imported from Russia, has recently clinched deals with several alternative gas producing countries to reduce its dependence on Moscow. Half of the gas is burned to produce electricity.

These agreements have allowed Rome to fill its gas storage quickly, but have not been enough to protect its industries from sky-rocketing energy costs.

This has led entrepreneurs and politicians to criticise the government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi which, unlike Germany, has so far said there is no need to impose state measures to ration gas.

Attending the same conference, a top official of Italy’s gas grid operator Snam said the country’s gas storage system would be 80% full in the next few days.

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