Italy has opened its second liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal, which is expected to be at full capacity by Q4.
The 8 billion m3 Adriatic LNG terminal in northern Italy starts up against a backdrop of weak gas demand, due to the global economic crisis, and falling prices.
It will bring gas from Qatar to Italy for 25 years, helping the country meet 10% of its gas needs and ease its dependence on gas imports from Russia and northern Africa.
Four cargo ships carryng 150,000 tonnes of gas have already arrived since the end of August.
The Adriatic LNG terminal is a joint venture between US oil giant Exxon Mobils Italian unit, Qatar Terminal, a unit of Qatar Petroleum, each with a 45% stake, and Edison, Italy's second biggest utility with 10%.
The new terminal would boost Edison's clout as a major gas operator in Italy and help it boost its annual gas supplies to 23 billion m3 by 2013 from 13 billion m3 at present.
Under existing agreements, Edison will use 80% of the terminal's capacity for 25 years and the remaining 20% will be offered to third-party operators.
Italy's first LNG terminal is owned by Italy's oil and gas major Eni and has a capacity of about 4 billion m3.