The context


Natural gas plays a key role in the global energy mix in order to ensure the safety and security of energy supply and to promote a gradual reduction of emissionis

The Energy Union, included by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, as one of the priorities of his mandate, consists of five dimensions:

  • energy security, the diversification of energy sources, and a response coordinated with any energy crises that may occur
  • integration of the European energy market
  • energy efficiency
  • decarbonisation of the economy
  • research, innovation and competitiveness


These guidelines works together with another key document: the 2030 Climate and Energy Package. The study pays attention not only to the reduction of climatic emissions, but also to the increase in energy efficiency and to the increase in the share of renewable energy to reach a quota of at least 27%.

In perspective, two are the key pillars for the future of the Energy Union.

  • the implementation of the 2030 Climate and Energy Package
  • the construction of the Energy Union


The reduction of climate-changing substances, is at the centre of the 2030 package, which aims to reduce them by at least 40%, with respect to those recorded in 1990.

The priority appears to be the diversification of energy sources, as also demonstrated by the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) strategy published in February 2016 by the Commission, the conclusions of the first EU-Algeria Business Forum and the approval by the Commission of the agreement between the Greek authorities and the TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) consortium.

The latest infrastructural developments aim to support this necessity: in addiction to TAP, the elaboration of the EastMed pipeline project has seen considerable progress and discussions about the possible Nord Stream doubling are continuing. Infrastructure’s strengthen and development are the essential steps for guarantying security and Union’s energy system’s flexibility.

Of the 450 billion cubic metres of gas consumed in Europe every year, less than half is covered by domestic production. The imported gas comes mainly from Norway (30%), Russia (39%) and Algeria (13%); another 10% is made up of LNG coming from Qatar, Algeria and Nigeria.

Liquefied natural gas and gas storage

The use of LNG and the enhancement of European energy security

In light of the marked increase in supply on a worldwide level and the considerable drop in prices, LNG now represents a fundamental resource because it can further diversify supplies and ideally connect extremely distant countries that would be impossible to connect via a pipeline to Europe.

Hence the reception infrastructure (the regasifiers), so as to make up for the fact that member states in the south-eastern area of Europe are closely bound to a single supplier and do not have access to LNG. Connecting these countries to the LNG markets via regional hubs is one of the key needs that the Energy Union will have to satisfy over the next few years.

LNG also lends itself to multiple innovative uses, useful to support a reduction of emissions.


Strategic storage: a possible response to sudden gas shortages

The storage of gas is fundamentally important to manage fluctuations in demand associated with seasonal dynamics and represents an effective solution against unexpected events or sudden increases in demand due to particular weather conditions.

One of Snam's proposals is creation and management of common continental reserves that could be an important element of security enhancement. In Italy, for example, the so-called "modulation storage" has enabled on several occasions to overcome sudden drop in supply due to the most diverse reasons.

A further reserve is guaranteed by what is known as “strategic storage”, managed directly by the Ministry of Economic Development and only used in major emergencies. A similar model could be replicated on a supranational level: its coordination would be assigned to a community organization that would elaborate regulations and specific conditions for the use of the strategic storages to offset the increasingly low incidence of long-term take-or-pay supply contracts. As they are emergency reserves, they would only be used in serious cases of unavailability of gas in one or more countries that supply the Union.

According to forecasts, natural gas demand is expected to grow steadily over the next few years, contributing to providing reliable energy to our country.

BCM 2016 2017 2018 Var. ass Var. %
RESIDENTIAL AND TERTIARY 28.86 29.48 29.17 -0.31 -1.1
THERMOELECTRIC 23.43 25.36 23.28 -2.08 -8.2
INDUSTRY(*) 16.58 17.80 17.87 0.07 0.4
OTHER (**) 2.04 2.51 2.34 -0.17 -6.8
TOTAL DEMAND 70.91 75.15 72.66 -2.49 -3.3

(*) Includes the consumption of the industrial, agricultural and fishing, chemical synthesis and automotive sectors.

(**) Consumption and losses relating mainly to the natural gas transportation system, the energy system, the upstream sector, storage and LNG plants.

Source: Annual Report 2018

In such a context, biomethane could play an important role.

SMC billion @10.6 KWH/SMC 2017 2022 2027 2030 2035 Var. %
year average
Var. %
year average
Residential and tertiary 29.5 27.8 26.2 24.9 22.4 -1.2% -1.5%
Thermoelectric 25.4 22.9 24.8 21.3 21.2 -0.2% -1.0%
Manufacturing plants 15.7 16.4 16.0 15.6 14.9 0.2% -0.3%
Other(*) 2.1 2.4 4.7 6.9 8.1 8.5% 7.9%
Consumption and losses 2.5 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.3 0.1% -0.5%
Total demand 75.2 71.9 74.3 70.9 68.9 -0.1% -0.5%

(*) Includes the consumption of the Agricultural and fishing, Chemical synthesis and Automotive sectors.

Fonte: Ten-Year development plan of the natural gas transmission network 2018-2027

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15 March 2019 - 10:52 CET