Italy was very irritated by the cancellation of the South Stream Pipeline, which would go from Russia to Bulgaria, and from there to South and Central Europe, and by its replacement with the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, which will go from Russia to Germany, and from there to Western and Southern Europe. ENI, the Italian energy giant which is controlled by the Italian public, was holding a large stake of the South Stream Pipeline project, while ENI does not hold any shares of the Nord Stream 2 project.
In Nord Stream 2 the Rusians have included the Germans (E.ON and BASF-Wintershall), the French (ENGIE), the Austrians (OMV), the English and the Dutch (Royal Dutch Shell). Now the Italians oppose the sanctions proposed by the European Union against Russia, but they also oppose the construction of Nord Stream 2, and they expect the Russians to include ENI in the Nord Stream 2 project. I guess the Italians want to take a portion of the shares held by the German companies i.e. E.ON and BASF-Wintershall. Or maybe a portion of the shares held by Gazprom, since Gazprom holds 50% of the shares.
The Italians also want to promote their own energy policy, especially after they discovered in August 2015 the largest natural gas field of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in Egypt i.e. the Zohr field. Maybe they could offer the Russians a share in the Zohr field in return for a share in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. After all the Russians already hold a share in the Israeli gas fields, and maybe it would be convenient for them to get involved in the Egyptian gas field too. But that’s simply a guess. What is for sure is that the Italians want a bit of Nord Stream 2.
“Italy Wants in on Russian Pipeline”, January 2016
“Italy’s Renzi joins opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal”, December 2015