The heart of Enel's upstream gas operations beats in the Mediterranean

The relationship between long term gas demand and supply has been going through a period of uncertainty in Europe in recent months. The economic slowdown, and the growth of both renewable energy and energy efficiency are raising questions about the future level of demand, while the fall in oil prices has led to cuts in investment.

In addition, rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine are putting the security of supply at the centre of international debate.

These issues were tackled in the recent European Gas Conference in Vienna, where Enel's Head of Upstream Gas Marco Arcelli, took part in a panel discussion with the CEO of OMV Gerhard Roiss, Gapzrom Chairman Viktor Zubkov and other industry experts.

The speakers believe that a new agreement between producers and consumers should be developed that will ensure competitive and reliable supplies in Europe. Enel is facing up to the challenge with a targeted investment plan in upstream gas that increases availability of gas at competitive prices in the Mediterranean region, and it's putting its focus on three major fronts. The main focus is on Algeria, a country that could potentially export about 60 billion cubic metres of gas to Europe, 50 percent of what Russia exports to the continent.

'We have become one of the country's largest upstream investors,' said Arcelli. 'We are developing one of the four most important mining projects, and we are participating in three exploration campaigns, with the aim of bringing a new Enel gas field into service every two-to-three years from 2018.'

Enel has also filed numerous requests to explore gas in Spain, whose geology is similar to that of the Eastern Mediterranean, where in recent years over a trillion m3 of gas have been discovered.

We must not forget of course Italy, where Enel holds the largest portfolio of exploration licences and aims to start production in its first field in 2017. According to Arcelli, 'Italy has a goldmine of oil and gas right beneath our feet that could potentially cover about 20 percent of domestic demand and create thousands of jobs'.