MILAN- Europe needs to set up a regulated gas bank using existing unused storage space to help to solve its gas woes, the head of Europe's biggest gas transport network said on Tuesday.
"We need a kind of 'whatever it takes' of gas... to stock strategic reserves," Marco Alvera, CEO of Italian gas infrastructure group Snam, said at a conference on energy transition.
Alvera was referring to former European Central Bank president Mario Draghi's 2012 speech saying the bank would do everything necessary to save the euro.
Snam SRG.MI runs most of Italy's gas storage capacity as a regulated business.
Record-high power and gas prices have increased energy bills for industry and consumers, prompting some EU countries to draw up emergency measures, including energy tax cuts and subsidies.
Last week the European Commission outlined measures to combat surging prices, saying it would explore the potential for joint purchases of strategic gas reserves.
Alvera said that a European storage system run by an independent consortium rather than traders would not require large investment since it could use unused capacity in countries such as Holland, Germany and Austria, where storage levels are low. He said that Ukraine has enormous storage capacity standing empty.
"Europe is in a bad position, northern Europe is in a very bad situation," he said, adding that the UK in particular could be in trouble if there is a particularly cold winter, given that it does not have strategic storage and depends on Europe to modulate gas supplies.
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes Editing by David Goodman) ((email@example.com; +39.0266129695; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))