PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) - Italy’s Eni SpA, one of the alternative gas and electricity suppliers in the French retail market, said on Tuesday it plans to sign up 2 million clients by 2021 after hitting its initial target since entering the market a year ago.
Eni said it signed up 1 million clients, including 300,000 in the electricity market, a year after launching its offer in the French retail energy sector, and generated 1.8 billion euros ($2.22 billion) in billings.
Italy’s oil and gas major is one of the alternative gas and electricity providers in the French market to have emerged since the sector was opened to competition against former monopolies EDF and Engie in 2007.
French oil and gas giant Total, consumer retail group Casino and Direct Energie are some of the other providers.
But 10 years after the liberalisation of the market and despite growing market share for alternative providers, progress was slow due to regulated power and gas prices, Daniel Fava, head of Eni Gas and Power in France, told reporters.
According to data from French energy market regulator CRE, alternative providers held about 18 percent of France’s 32 million-strong residential electricity market as of Dec. 31, and 26 percent of the 10.6 million residential gas clients.
CRE fixes regulated gas and electricity prices charged by EDF and Engie based on proposals from the government.
Fava said alternative providers have called for an end to regulated electricity prices after France’s highest administrative court repealed the law on regulated gas prices in July last year.
The French government has put forward a draft proposal which, if passed, would end regulated gas prices by 2023.
Eni and other alternative providers have asked French and European competition authorities to end the regulated power tariffs, which they say give an unfair advantage to EDF. ($1 = 0.8114 euros) (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Adrian Croft )