Eni suspends the purchase of oil from Russia

The logo of Italian energy company Eni is seen at a gas station in Rome
The logo of Italian energy company Eni is seen at a gas station in Rome, Italy August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi

MILAN, March 9 (Reuters) - Italian energy group Eni has suspended the purchase of oil from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine and is watching developments closely with regards to gas procurement.

"Eni has suspended the stipulation of new contracts related to the procurement of oil and oil products from Russia," the company said in emailed comments on Wednesday.

Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine have already cut off Russia from international trade and financial markets. Until this week its energy exports were exempted from the sanctions regime.

But on Tuesday U.S. President Joe Biden announced a broad ban on oil and other energy imports from Russia which is the world's biggest exporter of oil and natural gas. read more

Eni, which had already frozen joint ventures with Russian oil group Rosneft (ROSN.MM) following sanctions imposed in 2014, also has long-term take-or-pay gas contracts with Gazprom .

Earlier on Wednesday, when asked what it would do with these contracts if sanctions on Russia's energy sector tightened, it said it would fully "honour every decision taken by the European and Italian institutions".

This week European Union leaders are set to try and phase out the EU's dependency on Russian energy sources, including Russian gas which accounts for 45% of the bloc's import requirement. read more

Eni, in which the biggest shareholder is the Italian state, bought 22.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas in 2020 out of a total of around 62 bcm.

Last week it said it would sell its stake in the Blue Stream pipeline carrying Russian gas to Turkey co-owned with Russian gas giant Gazprom

Italy, which uses gas to generate some 40% of electricity, imports more than 90% of its gas needs, with Russian piped flows accounting for around 40%.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Italy has ramped up efforts to secure alternative gas sources in producer countries like Algeria, Qatar and Azerbaijan.

Eni, which has extensive gas resources in Africa, has strategic long-term gas contracts with Algerian state energy giant Sonatrach.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Cristina Carlevaro, Keith Weir, Kirsten Donovan

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