The Postwar Years

The Association, then called ANIG, was formed in 1946 just after the war ended with the objective: “to protect and sustain the interests of member companies, to support and facilitate in every way the reconstruction of the firms affected by war, to conduct union activities, to promote and foster understanding and agreements of an economic nature.”

The gas industry was committed to the reconstruction and reorganization of the industry, after the destruction and damage of war. The distributed gas was generally obtained by the distillation of coal, supplied by private companies, and was largely managed by the Association.

In 1946, the year of the advent of methane, the problem of using large-scale natural gas led toward the gradual transition to methane gas distribution, in conjunction with, or in some cases replacing the gas from coal distillation. ANIG promoted this technical innovation. In 1949, in the final year of the post-war reorganization, a national tariff system was instated that unified the cost of production and distribution.

The “Economic Boom” Years

During the fifties, the number of distributors of methane increased due to the development of new categories for its use, particularly that of domestic heating. The National Association of the Gas Industry, with an amendment of law, extended representation to companies or groups of companies that distributed natural gas through pipelines.

The sixties saw strong technological developments in production, thanks to the central and southern fields of the peninsula, the massive discoveries of natural gas in North Africa, and distribution of gas in the city. Besides the great discoveries of natural gas deposits underground in the Netherlands and in the adjoining North Sea, the availability of methane increased because of two important initiatives of Snam: the importation of natural gas from Libya and the Soviet Union.

Anigas allied with the members of the Association to protect their interests and concerns of service issues with the new landscape.

Large Inflows of Gas

In the seventies, the greater availability of methane revealed an immense reliance upon natural gas in the chemical and steel industries with a wider diffusion of this energy source to the end consumer market. In 1973, there were 1,090 municipalities using gas in comparison to 175 in 1969. The methane conversion initiated in southern Italy at the end of the decade thanks to the innovative installation of the Snam Transmed pipeline for the transport of Algerian natural gas, and entered the final stages of planning, construction, and facilities management.

Issues related to the renewal of employment contracts were of paramount importance to the Association.

From Crisis to Economic Recovery

A lengthy economic crisis was characteristic of the first part of the eighties: a crisis stemming from tough international competition and a colossal progression of technological innovation that fundamentally changed the structure of employment.

The eighties began with the commencement of methane consumption in the South. Among the 351 municipalities involved in the first phase of this process in 1985, 222 of them entrusted the companies of the Association for the development and management of their gas distribution systems. With the launch of an insightful program for the use of natural gas in residential and tertiary thermal power stations, the Italian Gas Industry gave the greatest contribution to the implementation of the fundamental objectives of various governmental energy plans: the reduction of the dependence on oil.

The associates of Anigas increased in number as important companies joined the Association from Southern Italy.

The Years of Change

In the second half of the nineties, the European gas market, and particularly in Italy, entered a historical phase of great change. The European Union gas & electricity directives shaped the Europe of 2000, and accelerated with specific time frames, the evolutionary stages with the objectives of greater efficiency, lower costs, and lower prices. This changed the infrastructure, public policy, and corporate strategies within the industry. In particular, on November 14th, 1995, by law no. 481, the Regulatory Authority for Electricity and Gas energy was established as an independent authority to regulate and control the electricity and gas sector, which became fully operational in 1997.

The Association prepared to face these new challenges by legally amending its constitution in 1998, and its acronym to Anigas (Associazione Nazionale Industriali Gas).

A New Market Environment

After the Letta Decree of 2000, the market structure completely changed.

With the onset of deregulation, the gas sector was changing. Corporate separation between infrastructure management and gas supply evolved toward unbundling to ensure independence and nondiscriminatory access to networks and enable all vendors to reach end consumers.

With the imposition of corporate separation, operators would have to assign sales and network management activities to two separate companies.

Anigas responded to the reform by repositioning themselves with the operators to face the problems of distribution as well as gas sales. The Association participated from the beginning of confronting regulation, collaborated to express opinions through consultation, mediated between the needs of operators, until today, to become one of the most qualified partners.

The Years of Deregulation

By 2003, all end customers in Italy become “eligible,” in other words, free to choose their gas supplier. Strictly commercial activities increasingly focused on competition are developed. The free market is born, characterized by diversified offers that over time focus no longer only on economic conditions. The market evolves: it increasingly proposes “tailor-made” offers for the end customer to better meet his or her needs, accompanied by a series of supplementary services that also translate into an economic advantage (boiler replacement, partnerships with operators in different sectors for more convenient joint offers…).

Alongside the free market, the regulated market remained, whose economic conditions are defined by ARERA through quarterly updates, and which is comprised of end customers who have not chosen a new supplier in the free market. The regulated market however is transitional in character: the prospect of deregulation defined at the European level requires its definitive elimination in order to implement a complete opening of the energy market.

The wholesale market also evolved. In 2010, the Gas Exchange, managed by the GME, is launched. Procurement, once focused on long-term take-or-pay contracts, increasingly began to grasp the opportunities offered by the spot market, which grew, also becoming the reference for updating the economic conditions of the regulated service.

The representation and activities of Anigas reflect the evolution of the gas industry. Within the regulated market, the Association followed the regulatory activity of the then Authority for Electricity and Gas (AEEG), which regulates infrastructure management and develops a regulation also focused on commercial activities of sales to the end customer. Anigas then amends its Articles of Association to broaden its representation among its Associates to include operators of transportation, liquefied natural gas regasification and storage, and companies engaged in trading activities.

The Beginning of the Energy Transition

Following the Kyoto Protocol, the COP 21 in Paris is held in 2015, marking an important global milestone in the development of decarbonization policies with the goal of keeping temperature rise below 2° and leading efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5° above pre-industrial levels.

Since 2009, Europe has been approving a series of increasingly rigorous and ambitious packages to address and manage climate change:

  • The “20-20-20 Plan”, the set of measures devised by the EU for the period after the end of the Kyoto Protocol with the threefold goal of (i) reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, (ii) raising the share of energy produced from renewable sources to 20 percent, and (iii) increasing energy savings to 20 percent: all by 2020
  • The so-called “Clean Energy for All Europeans” Winter Package, adopted in late 2018 and early 2019 to implement the commitments made in the Paris Agreement, which includes several legislative measures on energy efficiency, renewable energy development and energy markets and sets targets for 2021-2030
  • The European Green Deal, in late 2019, by which the EU commits to a pathway to a net greenhouse gas emissions system in 2050

National governance of the transition to green is entrusted to the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plans (NIPECs), governed by Regulation 2018/1999, and called to define targets, measures, and actions for the ecological transition, for each decade. Italy implements its PNIEC in late 2019, following a consultation process involving Anigas. The Association evolves in light of the new energy context, which is increasingly focused on the need to reduce emissions and manage climate change, and the pathway started by the natural gas industry to contribute to the decarbonization of the energy system.

In 2021, Anigas approves new bylaws to incorporate renewable, low-carbon, and decarbonized gases such as biomethane and hydrogen into the sphere of its representation, and increasingly focuses its mission on the transition to clean energy and the role the gas sector can play in ensuring an efficient and sustainable path forward.

The Pandemic and Present Energy Crisis

In 2020, with the onset of the pandemic and the resulting economic and social crisis, the context radically changes and makes the climate goals even more challenging. During the difficult emergency period with major restrictions, the natural gas industry ensured continuity of service and energy supply.

In 2021, the rebound in energy activity and demand-along with several contingent and structural factors (entirety of the gas market, competition from Asian countries with respect to LNG demand)-led to the escalation in energy prices seen since late 2021 and further amplified by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine since February 2022.

There is a paradigm shift: the energy transition must not only target environmental goals but must also ensure certainty and continuity of supply and affordable energy prices for citizens and businesses, factors no longer taken for granted today considering the current international geopolitical situation.

At the European level, the EU RePower Package introduces a series of measures aimed at making Europe independent from Russian supply while reconciling security and decarbonization.

The Formation of Proxigas

At the end of April 2022, the assembly of Anigas member companies resolve to establish Proxigas, the new reference Association for the gas sector. The result of the aggregation of Anigas and IGas, Proxigas strengthens the representation of the gas supply chain to address the challenges of flexibility and resilience effectively and authoritatively to the national energy system, which is increasingly interdependent on European and international dynamics, while at the same time fostering the ecological transition. The path to carbon emissions reduction, together with the geopolitical dynamics underway, place the gas sector even more at the center of the public debate. In this context, the agreement reached is an important sign of unity and cohesion, and the strengthening of association representation will enable the domestic gas industry to jointly address the critical issues of the current situation and make an essential contribution to espousing decarbonization and security of supply. The new Association represents almost all the major national infrastructure operators-the operators of the three regasification terminals, the major transmission company, and storage operators, a large part of the natural gas distribution network operators, and the major importers and operators active in the wholesale and retail markets.