By Francesca Landini
MILAN (Reuters) - Italian gas grid operator Snam said on Wednesday a 2022 drop in reported net profit, caused in part by a cut in the value of its stake in Austria's TAG gas pipeline, would not prevent it meeting this year's goals.
Snam booked an impairment of 340 million euros ($360.50 million) on its 85% stake in TAG, which transports gas through the Austrian segment of the pipeline linking Russia to Italy.
"TAG faces higher volatility in its 2023 results owing to the uncertainty of gas flows from the north towards Italy, which are expected to decrease compared to historical levels, although this will be partly offset by higher booked volumes of gas flowing from Italy to Austria," the gas grid operator said.
Adjusted net profit was 1.16 billion euros ($1.23 billion) in 2022, down 4.5% versus 2021 but higher than Snam's guidance of 1.13 billion euros.
Gas markets were thrown into turmoil last year by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Europe is seeking alternatives to Russian supplies on which countries such as Italy depended for decades.
Snam's investments rose by more than 50% last year to 1.93 billion euros as it bought two terminals for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The LNG infrastructure in Piombino, Tuscany, will be operational in May, Snam CEO Stefano Venier told a conference call.
As gas prices surged to record levels in Europe and consumers sought to limit consumption, gas demand in Italy fell 10% last year to 68.7 billion cubic metres (bcm). It is expected to be around 68-70 bcm this year.
Exxon Mobil Corp said on Wednesday it was considering selling its majority stake in Italy's main regasification terminal in the Adriatic Sea.
Snam, which owns a 7.3% stake in the terminal, may consider "rounding up our stake," if the sale goes ahead, Venier said.
In a shift from what the group suggested in January, Venier clarified that Snam did not plan to sell its 13% stake in gas distributor Italgas.
($1 = 0.9435 euros)
(Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Gavin Jones, Gianluca Semeraro and Barbara Lewis)