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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
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08/04/19 12:55

Some more new energy coming from Romagna

The Oil & Gas industry to cope with the decommissioning process imposed by the Italian Government. From Saipem to ENI, the updated ‘right-mix’ of energy policies to be implemented were presented during OMC 2019 event in Ravenna

Ravenna – The current and previous Italian Governments decreed a gradual ban on fossil fuels, but hydrocarbons (oil and gas) and coal are not going to stop supporting Italian economy.

Besides, extractive industries (with their related satellite activities) are undergoing structural changes, also to comply with legal requirements, so much so that in some sectors they are even thriving.

This was confirmed by the figures and facts reported during the recent OMC Offshore Mediterranean Conference in Ravenna, proving that the oil & gas industry underwent several changes but it is not facing a crisis.

However, are the leading energy industries really complying with the measures against climate change set out in the Paris Agreement?

Companies within the oil & gas sector reacted differently to the Energy and Climate National Plan, but protests reached the institutions.

During the OMC 2019, Ravenna Mayor Michele de Pascale (PD party) and undersecretary for energy Davide Crippa (M5S) met to discuss the Areas Plan – i.e. the regulation included in the Simplifications Decree-Law prohibiting upstream explorations – but they did not reach an agreement.

The Mayor complained about the failure to shorten the length of the suspension (18 months), and especially about the uncertainty, which will inevitably shift investments abroad. “We cannot produce gas, we can only import it”, this was the disappointing summary of the ideas of the Italian government representative, who also announced that he wants to organize a meeting between representatives and stakeholders to find the best strategy.

With the decommissioning decree, the Plan will provide for the reconversion of disused platforms, establishing the limits for the exploration and search for hydrocarbons. In turn, the Fer 2 Decree will adopt incentives for the reconversion to marine renewables within 2030-2050.

Deputy Minister of Economic Development Laura Castelli (M5S) confirmed the Government’s intention to start the decarbonization of the economy as soon as possible, thus promoting a new national energy policy in order to ensure the lowest impact possible on the environment, to support the economic growth and to ensure the lowest energy price possible and the certainty of supplies.  

In fact, the Government declared to be aware of the need to find a common path for all the stakeholders to strategically redefine the Italian and international energy policy with other oil and gas producing countries, thus finding the right balance between economic growth, industrial development and social sustainability. “Together with the stakeholders, we will look for possible solutions to create a virtuous ecosystem, being aware that without fossil energy (oil, coal and natural gas) our daily lives would be completely different”.

Will they keep their promise?

Castelli emphasized the centrality of the Mediterranean, which will play a pivotal role in Italian policies, not only as a gas hub, for exportations to Europe and to the other Mediterranean markets, but also due to the increasing transport demand.

“We will have to establish a common strategy with oil producing countries, acknowledging Italy’s new strategic international role by improving cooperation between the various industrial system and by developing environmental sustainability workshops in the oil and gas producing Countries”.

Meanwhile, Saipem CEO Stefano Cao confirmed that the company will follow a new path based on LNG, decommissioning, renewables and infrastructures, looking for new geographical horizons and starting from the East Med as an area providing new opportunities.

“The Eastern Mediterranean area between the coasts of Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt plays a strategic role following the recent significant gas discoveries, which will be destined both for domestic and export markets in neighbouring and European countries, thus determining a significant increase in the creation of new gas transport infrastructures”.

In particular, following the discovery of the Zohr gas field, Egypt has a great opportunity of becoming the region’s gas centre. Gas demand is growing much faster than oil or coal demand, and in the future LNG will play a dominant role in the transition, being the commodity that will allow us to switch to a low carbon emissions era. Therefore, Zohr is a successful example both for Saipem and for customers”, explained managing director of the Milano-based company, which will be involved in gas transport projects, including the East Med project (1,900 Km long and 3,000 meters deep) to transport gas from Eastern Mediterranean fields to Cyprus, Crete, Greece and Italy to connect to the European distribution network through the Poseidon gas pipeline.

ENI’s subsidiary is also interested in alternative transport projects related to gas liquefaction and regasification, and to the development of new recently discovered offshore gas fields.

“The ongoing transition will lead to a new energy mix, in which gas and renewable sources will play an increasingly important role, and new solutions will be necessary to make fossil fuels production increasingly sustainable. Saipem is focusing on liquefied natural gas. In order to compensate for the slowdown in oil contracts, we will enhance our skills in the decommissioning, renewable energies and infrastructures segments”, Cao added.

“The main field of study and development are renewable energy and energy storage, sustainable use of traditional fossil fuels (including the new hybrid configurations), exploitation of natural gas and management of the entire CO2 production chain.

We will increase our presence in low-C02 emission markets, such as offshore wind, biomass conversion, concentration solar and geothermal, and we are pursuing innovative solutions in emerging sectors such as high-altitude wind (both onshore and offshore) and marine energies from waves and currents.

In the upcoming decade, clean energy and gas will represent 50/60% of our portfolio.

Investments in the development of new technologies, together with our fleet, allows us to continue to provide customers with a diversified range of solutions through our “Global Solution Provider” model, supporting our customers in the energy transition and throughout the entire life cycle of a plant, from its development to its management and decommissioning”.

During the Romagna kermess, ENI presented its digital transformation plan, focusing on digitalization to boost its sustainable growth integrated model.

“Sensors, the availability of a large amount of data and the ability to process them allowed us to develop new technologies, starting from those related to Artificial Intelligence, with a huge potential, to support operational activities and grant benefits in terms of safety, asset integrity, environment and operational efficiency.

The Olio Val D’Agri (Cava) centre in Viggiano (Potenza, Basilicata) was chosen as ENI’s first Lighthouse, fully digitalized with more innovative technologies.

During the Ravenna biennial conference, ENI announced the successfully launch of its Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter (ISWEC) production unit to produce energy from waves, adapting also to the various sea conditions to ensure high productive continuity.

The pilot plant, installed in offshore Ravenna, is integrated in a unique “smart grid” hybrid system consisting of photovoltaic and energy storage systems, and it reached a 51 kW power peak, amounting to 103% of its nominal capacity, thus proving to be the ideal technology to supply medium and large offshore assets. In the future, this solution will allow ENI to turn mature offshore platforms into renewable energy generation hubs.

According to the International Energy Agency, in 2050 the exploitation of marine currents and waves might meet 50% of the world’s energy demand.

Meanwhile, the Mediterranean provides natural gas fields (11,000 billion cubic meters of methane and 1.7 billion barrels of oil). This was confirmed by the relevant Egyptian, Libyan and Lebanese ministers, who confirmed that in their countries traditional upstream will play a more important role in attracting investments than solar and wind renewables.

ENI itself proves the peaceful coexistence of hydrocarbons extractions and Romagna territory, where its 40 platforms (22% of the Italian gas production) are not disturbing the local ecosystem, nor agriculture, bathing establishments or nature reserves.

Managing director Claudio Descalzi confirmed that ENI is aiming at decarbonization, planning to invest 1 billion euro in circular economy projects within 2022, and at achieving “zero emissions” by 2030. Over three thirds of total investments will be in upstream, granting a 3.5% production increase per year thanks to the ramp-up mix and to the launching of new projects, with 660,000 barrels per day in 2022 and 290,000 equivalent oil barrels per day within 2022, from the expansion of the existing fields.

As concerns LNG development, the Roma-based group estimates 14 million tons per year of contractualized volumes in 2022, and 16 million within 2025.

With respect to refining and chemicals, Versalis estimates a 40% refining capacity increase by 2022 thanks to its recent transaction in the United Arab Emirates, to the launching of its plant in Gela and to the second phase of Venice, which will allow for 1 million tons per year of “green refining”.

The OMC 2019 was attended by 23,500 visitors compared to the 21,000 of 2017, with 634 exhibitors.

However, this was the first time that the French oil company Total, managing the Tempa Rossa (Basilicata) field, and the British-Dutch Shell did not attend the conference.

The shipbuilding giant China Merchants Group – which established its branch in Ravenna to create a naval engineering and Oil & Gas hub through its subsidiary CMIT China Merchant Industry Technology Europe, headed by managing director Stefano Schiavo – attended the event for the first time.

The meeting was attended by the entire local industry represented by the Ravenna Offshore Contractors Association (ROCA) established in 1992: Micoperi, Rosetti Marino, F.lli Righini, Bonatti, Fiore, Bambini, CTS, Ravenna Cargo, SGS, Secomar-Petrokan and Rana, the latter having its booth next to the container solutions specialist SOGECO.

Also Edison, Prysmian, Tenaris, Severstal attended the conference, as well as the industrial classification and certification societies RINA, DNV-GL, BV, Lloyd’s Register. The Italian ship registry presented its strategic data application platform NACube.

There were also Alioto, Cometto, Hempel, Trelleborg, Ardent, Castalia, MacPort-Liebherr, banchero costa, Cimolai, Consilium, Nord Est Group, MTU, Pietro Fiorentini, CGT, Emerson, as well as the exhibitor Dräger dealing with detection, protection, rescue and escape devices.

Angelo Scorza

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