17:28 GMT +320 August 2018
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    Gazprom, Eni talk market access, gas prices, deposit development

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    ROME, March 24 (RIA Novosti, Olga Grinkrug) - Russian energy giant Gazprom is looking to expand its presence in Italy and is holding talks with Italian company Eni, a source said Friday.

    The world's largest natural gas producer, Gazprom is looking to gain direct access to the Italian market and wants to acquire a stake in pipeline company Snam-Retegas and Eni subsidiary Eni Enipower, the Eni source said.

    Eni wants to extend a contract with Gazprom that expires in 2017, determine a fixed price for Russian gas, and get involved in developing deposits in Russia.

    Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said at a meeting of G8 energy and finance ministers in Moscow last week that Eni could participate in developing the Shtokman deposit in northern Russia. The deposit holds an estimated 3.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 31 million metric tons of gas condensate.

    Italian Minister of Productive Activities Claudio Scajola said: "Increasing gas supplies from Russia is important for Europe and we are prepared to invest more to increase production and exports."

    He added that the Italian and Russian governments were interested in successful Gazprom-Eni talks.

    Italian experts said the talks were unlikely to finish Friday, as the companies still had to discuss a lot of issues.

    Eni and Gazprom signed an agreement on supplies in Vienna last year, but Italy's antitrust body vetoed the deal.

    The country's top antitrust enforcer, Antonio Catricala, said Wednesday he was very skeptical about the need to increase gas imports.

    "Gas is an extremely expensive fuel," Catricala said. "We could as well use Chanel perfume."

    He also said that gas pipelines were vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and did not rule out the emergence of a cartel similar to OPEC to dictate gas prices in the future.

    Scajola, however, has repeatedly suggested that talks will be successful.

    The talks come as Europe is looking to reduce energy dependence on Russia and diversify its energy supplies and sources.

    Some experts also doubt Russia's ability to meet its supply commitments to the EU and to fill planned gas pipelines to China.

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