European leaders should increase investments in infrastructure needed to secure "new sources" of natural gas from locations such as Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Africa, said Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive at Italian energy giant ENI.
Scaroni told delegates at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston that diversity was the key to the global energy sector of the future.
"In the decade ahead, and probably well beyond that, the world energy scene will be increasingly dominated by the consumption of gas and the supply of gas," he said.
Scaroni said European leaders would benefit from linking rival pipeline projects Nabucco and South Stream, Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency adds.
"If only all partners decided to link the two, we would reduce operating costs and increase efficiency," he said.
A troubled relationship between gas host nation Ukraine and supplier Russia prompted a race to diversify the European energy sector.
The European Commission recently allocated billions of dollars to fund the construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline to move non-Russian gas through Turkey.
Moscow, meanwhile, aims to avoid Ukrainian territory with its South Stream gas pipeline through the Balkans.
ENI is a major partner in the South Stream project along with Russian gas giant Gazprom.
Russia is not considering a proposal to combine part of its South Stream gas project with the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Monday.
"We are not discussing such issues," Shmatko said.
Shmatko commented on a recent suggestion by Italy's Eni SpA, Gazprom's partner in the South Stream gas pipeline project, that combining some sections of the pipelines would cut costs and boost profits.
Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni was reported to say at a Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference in Houston on Wednesday that if all the partners decided to merge the two pipelines for part of the route, "we would reduce investments, operational costs and increase overall returns."
Shmatko also said Russia welcomed Europe's desire to diversify gas supply routes but did not consider the South Stream and Nabucco as rival projects.
Both South Stream and Western-backed Nabucco aim to supply natural gas to Southern and Central Europe. The South Stream project is designed to deliver up to 63 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian natural gas under the Black Sea while Nabucco is intended to pump 31 billion cu m of natural gas from the Caspian region via Turkey.
Russian experts, however, are skeptical about the prospects of merging the two pipelines as Nabucco was originally designed to cut Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas deliveries.