Italian antitrust authorities have levied a E290 million fine on gas incumbent Eni on charges that the company is restricting access to a pipeline from North Africa.

The ruling says that Eni will have to provide additional capacity on the pipeline from Algeria to Italy to the tune of 6.5 billion cubic meters per annum.

The watchdog said that Eni’s delays in opening up the pipeline to third parties would cause significant problems for the functioning of the Italian gas market, hence its decision to take enforcement action.

Eni is to study the ruling in detail before deciding whether to appeal. Gas supplies to Italy have been a source of significant concern recently as the country was beset by an unusually cold winter combined with a tightening of imports from Russia.