MILAN- Europe's biggest gas pipeline company Snam sees 23 billion euros ($26 billion) of investment opportunities over the next nine years as it boosts spending to get its network ready for hydrogen and the transition to cleaner energy sources.
The company said in its business plan on Monday the investments would help it drive its earnings from next year to the end of the decade by 6-8% per year as it looks to become net carbon neutral for its own products by 2040.
It said it was planning to spend around 3 billion euros to repurpose 2,700 km of network to transport hydrogen from the south of Italy to the north for export into high-energy demand regions such as Germany.
Snam, which makes most of its revenue from gas transport in Italy, is keen to develop the use of hydrogen in its pipelines as economies increasingly look to wean themselves off gas.
"We will play a key role in a decisive decade for the energy transition, aiming to seize new growth opportunities in Italy and internationally," Snam CEO Marco Alvera said.
Snam agreed on Saturday to buy a stake in pipelines carrying Algerian gas into Italy in a move that could pave the way for hydrogen imports from Africa into Europe.
Snam, which runs most of Italy's gas storage, also said it planned to help develop an international green energy storage platform.
Italy is one of the European countries that has urged Brussels to build joint strategic sites to store gas.
Snam, which pledged to spend 8.1 billion euros in the four ears to 2025, confirmed a 5% growth in dividends to 2022 with a minimum growth of 2.5% per year to 2025.
($1 = 0.8857 euros)
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Giulia Segreti and David Evans) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +39.0266129695; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))