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Italian commissioner proposes cheaper gas for area hosting new LNG terminal

Italian gas group Snam logo is seen outside their office in Rome

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - Companies and households in a Tuscan town chosen to host a new regasification terminal should be offered a 50% discount on their gas price to help overcome local opposition, the commissioner for the project said on Friday.

Under the government's energy plan, the new floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) should be operational by the end of next March to increase the country's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and make up for a shortfall of Russian imports.

The infrastructure, bought in June by Italy's gas grid operator Snam, is considered essential by Rome but has encountered fierce opposition from the mayor of Piombino, the city on the west coast of Italy where it should be moored.

"The discount (I proposed) is 50% for citizens and businesses for as long as the ship will be in the port of Piombino," said commissioner Eugenio Giani, at the end of the second meeting to discuss plans for the terminal.

A final decision over the discount and the number of people who would benefit will be up to the new government, Giani said.

After attending the same meeting, the far-right mayor of Piombino, Francesco Ferrari, repeated that the local administration is against the terminal.

Ferrari added that the new government, which will likely be headed by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, should have the power to decide over the terminal.

Snam has agreed that the vessel will be moored at Piombino for three years and then will be moved offshore.

The company has not disclosed the future destination yet, but on Friday it ruled out placing the vessel in the Gulf of Follonica, south of Piombino, an area where there are many fish farms.

(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene; writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Keith Weir)