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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italy Steps Up Gas-Saving Measures

MILAN, Italy -- Italy readied emergency measures on Saturday to tackle dwindling gas stocks as cold weather bit and the biggest gas importer, Eni, said Russian supplies were 16 percent short for the third day running.

Italian Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said in a statement that he had decided to bring forward a plan that came into effect only for exceptional events and that included halting electricity exports and maximizing gas imports.

The measures, widely flagged, include programmed interruptions to supplies for some industrial customers.

Italy, a net importer of electricity, has recently started sending electricity to other countries, mainly France and Switzerland. Industry officials say Italy, facing its coldest winter in over four decades, might have to dip into 5.1 billion cubic meters of strategic gas reserves very soon if measures to cut demand prove insufficient.

Scajola has already called for communal heating to be turned down by 1 degree Celsius and allowed some switching of generating plants to fuel oil use. A continuing shortfall in supplies from Russia has added to the problems.

On Saturday, Eni said supplies of Russian gas were expected to be 16.2 percent short of demand.

Russian supplies account for just under 30 percent of Italy's total gas imports. Other major suppliers include Algeria, the Netherlands and Norway.