Italian giant Eni’s chief executive Claudio Descalzi has described Europe as “an empty box” in terms of energy, saying it has never thought about a clear strategy for properly maintaining energy security.

Speaking at an industry event in Dubai on Monday, Descalzi also came down heavily on the European Union's energy transition strategy, noting that replacing Russian imports will not be an easy task for member nations.

“We don't have our own energy ... and we never thought about a strategy for energy security,” he said.

European nations are increasingly trying to wean themselves off Russian gas imports and are looking to leading gas producers elsewhere around the world for supplies following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Descalzi noted Russia is now asking Eni to pay for gas in roubles, which is not in its contracts.

"It's difficult to agree because we don't have this kind of currency," Descalzi said.

Energy conflict

The Eni chief executive said the world has created a conflict between energy transition, oil and gas, with “decarbonisation becoming an ideology”.

Descalzi said “we cannot do everything with just with renewables” and those producing oil and gas were now seen as almost akin to criminals.

He added that no single source of energy can meet the world's demands.

“We know very well that in the last 200 years ... we have never found [an] energy source that replaced everything,” Descalzi said.

Russian exit

Earlier this month, Eni became the latest international oil company to announce its exit from Russian investments, affecting a gas pipeline venture with Russian state giant Gazprom.

Eni said that it will work to sell its 50% shareholding in the Blue Stream subsea gas pipeline running across the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey.

Gazprom holds the other 50% shareholding in Blue Stream and is also responsible for supplying gas to the pipeline’s entry point via the network of gas trunklines from West Siberia.

With a capacity to deliver more than 16 billion cubic metres per annum of gas to Turkey, the Blue Stream pipeline was inaugurated in 2003.

However, its utilisation rate has varied year-to-year depending on the demand for natural gas in Turkey as the system does not offer a re-export option.

According to Eni, its exposure to Russia has been limited since 2014 when the company had to comply with US sanctions and suspended its participation in a Black Sea exploration venture by Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft.