Italian gas operator Eni must cut its market share from 70% to about 50% in order to balance the market, the head of the country's gas and power regulator said.

Speaking on Italian radio station Radio 24, Alessandro Ortis said that Eni should also sell off its gas network operator Snam Rete Gas and storage operator Stogit, both majority controlled by the company.

Eni should drop (its share) in the same way as Enel (the country’s former power monopoly), thus towards 50%, said Mr Ortis. But it’s not the percentage that’s important but the possibility for companies to enter that are able to compete with Eni.

The regulator also urged the three companies to invest in storage capacity to deal with current supply problems. Shortfalls from Russia and an increase in demand have led the government to announce that it will probably start using strategic gas reserves this week.