energy industry

Soaring gas prices threaten survival of Venice glassblowers

Reuters
Soaring gas prices threaten survival of Venice glassblowers

FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL. Ivano Ferro, one of the owners of the Effetre Murano glass factory, works at the factory's furnace in Venice, Italy, November 12, 2021.

Manuel Silvestri/Reuters

The spike in gas prices represents a new challenge for Murano's glass manufacturing industry, which employs around 1,000 workers

Glassblowers in the tiny island of Murano, in the Venice lagoon, have long been famed for the colors and sophistication of their art, but a global surge in gas prices is making it hard to keep furnaces open, threatening their survival.

Since glass manufacturing began on the island in the late 13th century, the industry has survived economic crises and wars, delivering prized tableware, chandeliers, and jewelry to the world.

Murano’s glass manufacturing involves some 60 firms employing around 1,000 workers. It was already struggling to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and the sudden rise in fuel costs represents a new challenge.

Gas prices have risen this year across Europe due to low inventories, increased demand after the easing of COVID-19 lockdowns, and Russia not supplying more than contracted volumes.

“At the end of September we paid 40,000 euros ($45,488) [a month], in October we were at 170,000 euros” for the same amount of gas, said craftsman Cristiano Ferro, who already shut down his furnace.

CLOSED. A view of turned off ovens at a Murano furnace in Venice, Italy, November 12, 2021.
Manuel Silvestri/Reuters

Rome has set aside more than 3 billion euros to soften the impact of increases in retail energy bills, but Murano artisans say this is not enough.

“We consume about 10 million cubic meters of gas a year here…. To us, gas is what water is to others,” said glass factory owner Luciano Gambaro.

Glassworker Giovanni Maschietto is even more downbeat.

“I think everything here is going to die,” he said. “The government doesn’t seem to be doing much to save us. People need to buy bread, not glass, you can’t eat glass.” – Rappler.com

$1 = 0.8794 euros