June 22 on the energy front was a heart-pounding day. It all begins with the alarm of the number one of the International Energy Agency (AIE) on the possible stop of the sending of gas from Moscow: the closer we are to winter – declares Fatih Birol al Financial Times – and the more we understand Russia’s intentions: I believe that the cuts are aimed at preventing Europe from filling up its deposits and increasing leverage in the winter months. His words bounce back to Milan, where the top executives of three strategic Italian companies for energy security – Claudio Descalzi of Eni and Stefano Venier of Snam – meet at the Italian CEO Conference of Mediobanca: theme, energy independence and price increases.
THE summit with Cingolani in Rome
In the late afternoon they are expected in Rome with other big Italian energy companies at the summit with the Minister of Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani on the storage node. Who just before took part in the Council of Ministers to enact a new decree law to extend the measures already in place to contain bills (the elimination of general system charges and the reduction of VAT to 5%) also in the third quarter with a financial commitment of approximately 3.3 billion. An expense that should be covered by the proceeds of one new tax on extra-profits of those who import gas at prices much lower than those sold, which affects from 1 July 2022 and 31 March 2023.
The new tax on extra-profits from gas
But not only. The government led by Mario Draghi also approves aid to encourage the purchase of methane between now and the next few weeks to create a reserve stock. Sace guarantees will be on the field for the companies that stockpile. The priority is to stock up as much as possible for the winter. On Moscow Descalzi is more optimistic. After the cut of 50% of the supplies compared to the requests there should not be a new reduction. The cuts – Descalzi said yesterday – have stabilized. On possible future cuts it is difficult to say. But interrupting supplies would mean losing all income completely. Following a commercial logic, but here perhaps we go beyond it, I think this stabilization can last. We, however, must not waste time and go into a situation of oversupply to be able to store. We are currently at 55.24% coverage versus a 90% target by the end of October. All this happens while the price of gas (the futures contract on the European reference market in Amsterdam) is up and down to close up at 127 euros per megawatt hour. A year ago it was 19 euros.
Towards the carbon tax in Europe
Meanwhile, in Brussels, the European Parliament found the square on its negotiating position regarding the reform of the Ets system (Emissions Trading Scheme), which is extended to maritime transport and waste-to-energy plants and agreed to gradually eliminate free CO2 quotas between 2027 and 2032. MEPs also approved the position on the so-called carbon tax and on the social climate fund. The text must be negotiated with the states and the Commission. And on the other side of the ocean, US President Joe Biden has called on Congress to suspend the federal fuel tax for three months.
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