Italgas is the leader in Italy in the industry of natural gas distribution and is the third largest operator in Europe. The distribution service consists of transporting gas through local pipeline networks, from points of delivery at the reduction and measurement stations interconnected with the transport networks (“city-gates”) up to the final delivery points to customers (households, enterprises, etc.). Furthermore, Italgas is engaged in metering activities, which consist of determining, gathering, making available and archiving metering data on natural gas withdrawn over the distribution networks.
Collection cabins are equipment that link local distribution networks to the national gas pipeline network. They are complex systems that must perform different functions, including the measurement of the gas collected and a first reduction of the pressure to allow routing through the urban network. Currently Italgas has collection cabins equipped with advanced remote control and smart metering systems. Remote control allows the fastest possible intervention in case of anomalies; smart metering allows the continuous detection of a series of parameters relative to the management of gas flows as well as the detection of the quantity of gas entering the networks.
The systems for the reduction of pressure are devices placed along the distribution network and have the task to bring the pressure of the gas at the right level in relation to the type of use.
Technical investments were made in 2021 for a total of € 865.1 million, up by 11.5% compared to 2020 (€ 775.7 million), of which € 14.9 million related to investments accounted for in accordance with IFRS 16. Total investments do not include the acquisition of the concession for natural gas distribution in the municipality of Olevano sul Tusciano (SA) for a consideration of € 1.8 million.
|(€ million)||2020||2021||Abs. change||Change %|
|Network maintenance and development||455.8||604.4||148.6||32.6|
|of which digitisation||84.9||146.7||61.8||72.8|
|di cui Sardegna||100.7||95.0||(5.7)||(5.7)|
|of which Real Estate||41.7||24.0||(17.7)||(42.4)|
|of which ICT||25.4||27.5||2.1||8.3|
|of which due to the effect of IFRS 16||26.5||14.9||(11.6)||(43.8)|
Up until 31 December 2020, the Group capitalised costs relating to the legally required periodic checks of volume conversion devices under operating costs, where such devices are present in the meters installed at the re-delivery points. At 31 December 2021, the Group retrospectively classified expenses relating to these checks amongst operating costs, in accordance with current accounting standards. In order to ensure comparability with the details of the Investment items, the corresponding investment item (-€ 1.8 million) was adjusted accordingly as of 31 December 2020
Distribution investments (€ 718.3 million, +26.2% compared to 2020) refer to initiatives for the development, maintenance and repurposing of the network as well as for the construction of new gas distribution networks, which involved the installation of a total of 732 km of pipeline.
In 2021 a further 91 km of new network was constructed in Sardinia, bringing the total installed networks to 897 km, and a total of 53 LNG storage plants were installed, of which 50 were operative at 31 December 2021.
Investments in digitisation (€ 146.7 million, up +72.8%) relate to the installation of digital devices for the acquisition of data for the control and monitoring of the distribution network and plants.
Metering investments (€ 76.5 million, -35.7% compared to 2020) refer to the final stage of the plan to replace traditional meters pursuant to ARERA Resolution no. 631/2013/R/gas, as amended. In 2021, the Company installed 821 thousand new meters, of which 339 thousand to replace traditional G4/G6 meters, 468 thousand for the repair of digital meters with anomalies and 14 thousand to replace large-caliber meters. At 31 December 202130, a total of 7.9 million smart meters have been installed as part of the plan to replace traditional meters with smart meters (91.7% of the total number of meters and practically all active meters).
30 Also taking into account the affiliates, over which Italgas does not exercise control, 869 thousand new meters were installed during the period, bringing the total number of smart meters installed as a 31 December 2021 to 7.9 million (90.8% of the total number of meters and practically all active meters).
|Municipalities with gas distribution concessions||(no,)||1,826||1,837||11||0.6|
|Municipalities with gas distribution concessions in operation||(no,)||1,743||1,761||18||1|
|Gas distributed||(million cubic metres)||8,477.0||8,886.7||409.7||4.8|
|u.o.m.||2020||2021||Abs. change||Change %|
|Municipalities with gas distribution concessions||(no,)||1,887||1,898||11||0.6|
|Municipalities with gas distribution concessions in operation||(no,)||1,804||1,822||18||1|
|Gas distributed||(million cubic metres)||8,727.4||9,194.1||466.7||5.3|
The following figure shows the presence of the Italgas Group in Italy32. As at 31 December 2021, as a result of the regulatory framework envisaging the award of gas distribution services through local tenders (and not by individual municipality), 38 tender notices have been published, 27 of which were sent to the Authority as envisaged in Ministerial Decree no. 226/2011.
Of the 38 tender notices published to date:
The public session on the “Open tender procedure for the concession of the natural gas distribution service in the Naples 1 – City of Naples and coastal plant ATEM” was held on 29 January 2021. This ATEM encompasses approximately 370,000 re-delivery points. In this context, the tender committee announced that it would verify the appropriateness of the bids received and suspended tender operations pending the outcome of these checks. On 14 April 2021, the tender committee acknowledged that both bids received had been found to be adequate and made a proposal to award the contract to another operator, having verified that the requirements declared during the tender had been met. Italgas Reti appealed before the Regional Administrative Court of Campania against the awarding of the tender to the other operator mentioned above. In particular, following the order of 15 September 2021 whereby it had rejected one of the claimed grounds for inadmissibility raised by the other operator, by judgement given on 6 October 2021, the Regional Administrative Court of Campania rejected the main petition at the first instance and the additional grounds proposed by Italgas for the cancellation of the award to another operator of the tender in the Minimum Territorial Area of Naples 1. On 11 November 2021, Italgas Reti filed an appeal to the Council of State against the judgement of the Regional Administrative Court of Campania, with an application for compensation for damages. Following the hearing on 13 January 2022 at the Council of State, the Municipality of Naples and the other operator undertook not to stipulate the contract before the publication of the ruling on the merits. The Council of State has scheduled the hearing for discussion of the merits for 7 April 2022.
On 11 October 2021, the Regional Administrative Court of Veneto rejected the appeal brought by another operator against the invitation to tender relating to the Belluno ATEM, thereby confirming the legitimacy of awarding the tender to Italgas Reti. Specifically, the Regional Administrative Court rejected all the objections expressed by the other operator, with reference both to the tender documents and the legitimacy of the offer and of the Committee’s actions. The operator appealed against this judgement, without, however, submitting a petition for the interim suspension of the deeds challenged.
The ruling of the Council of State is pending with reference to the rehearing requested by the municipalities belonging to the Belluno ATEM against the judgement of the Regional Administrative Court of Veneto, whereby the petition brought against the award of the tender to Italgas Reti, was rejected. Judgement is also pending by the Council of State on the appeal brought by the councils against another judgement whereby the Regional Administrative Court of Veneto had upheld the petition brought by Italgas Reti against the unlawful revocation of the delegation on the Council of Belluno, as Client.
31 For more information on the regulation concerning the assignments of gas distribution service and the related call for tenders, please see the specific paragraph in the chapter “Legislative and regulatory framework”.
32 The territorial presence where Italgas exercises control is shown in blue, the presence through affiliates over which it does not exercise control is shown in orange.
33 Further information is provided in Note 23 “Disputes and other measures” to the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.