Gazprom has yet again extended its footprint in the Italian energy sector by concluding a new collaboration deal with Italian natural gas supplier Gas Plus, Prime-TASS has reported.

Quoting Italian daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore as its source, Prime-TASS has reported that the Russian gas titan and Italian firm have agreed to set up a joint venture company tasked with the job of facilitating the distribution of Russian gas in the Italian market.

The development forms part of Gazprom’s strategy to establish a direct presence in western Europe’s energy markets and follows on closely from a deal signed with Eni, which permits Gazprom to supply gas directly to Italian consumers through Eni’s pipelines.

The Italian development also comes at the same time that reports suggest that Gazprom is negotiating supply contracts with French energy heavyweights Electricite de France and Total.