ROME, Premier Giorgia Meloni said Monday that her government has no intention of backing down on a decree designed to boost fuel-price transparency that has angered Italy’s gas-station operations and led them to call a 48-hour strike for Wednesday and Thursday.

The decree includes an obligation for gas stations to give the national average price for petrol and diesel alongside their own prices in a bid to stop speculative hikes, with fines for those that do not comply.

The gas-station associations said they were striking to protest at being hit with a “wave of mud” over high prices after the government ended a reduction in fuel duties at the turn of the year.

“We called them (the gas-station associations) twice for talks,” Meloni said during a visit to Algiers.

“The government has never conceived measures to point the finger at gas-station operators but to recognise the value of the many honest ones.

“The average showed that prices were not sky high. They were very few speculative hikes.

“We couldn’t go back on this measure, which is a good one.

Publishing the average price is sensible.

“No one wants to hit this group”.

Meloni was in Algeria to sign more agreements to strengthen Italy’s partnership in this sphere with the North African country.

Italy has struck deals with several countries to boost alternative sources of energy since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Algeria has replaced Russia as Italy’s biggest supplier of gas.

“Today Algeria is a our main gas supplier,” Meloni said. “Two agreements have been signed by (Italian energy giant) Eni and its Algerian counterpart.

“An agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, so one that is for sustainable development.

“Another to increase Algeria’s gas exports to Italy and the EU, the development of a new pipeline for hydrogen and the possibility to have liquefied gas.

“In short, it is a energy-mix mechanism that we have identified as a possible solution to the ongoing crisis”.

She added that she could see Italy becoming “the port of access, a sort of energy-distribution hub”. Meloni also spoke about the need for the EU to have a coherent approach to aid to enable businesses to stay competitive following the shock they have endured in terms of soaring energy prices.

She said Italy would raise this issue at the next European Council summit. Italy should have weaned itself off its reliance on Russian gas imports by the winter of 2024-25, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said during the visit.

“I am optimistic we will be able to being down Russian supplies of gas to zero in the winter of 2024-2025,” Descalzi said.

“I’d say that, if we continue as we are, things will go in the right direction”.

Source: Ansa News Agency

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