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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
11/02/19 11:58

Ravenna bets on the new generation of ports operators to be trained at its University

The relaunch of the Romagna territory – seriously affected by the Italian government’s absurd anti-drilling decisions, damaging the flourishing offshore industry – is based on the Hub Project, which will require new workers with specific skills

Ravenna – Romagna region relied on off-shore gas and oil extraction for decades as the offshore economy gave rise to several satellite activities. However, the current populist government’s decisions – affecting also the Third Giovi Pass and the high-speed Turin-Lyon railway, are probably going to damage drilling activities in Ravenna.

If the flourishing Northern Adriatic offshore oil industry is subject to the Five Star Movement restrictive measures, all the firms and people working in the oil & gas and offshore sectors will be affected significantly, as well as the port of Ravenna.

Among private entrepreneurs committed in Ravenna, there are the heirs of Attilio Monti and Serafino Ferruzzi, as well as Raul Gardini, to mention a few; besides Chamber of Commerce president and first Chairman of the newly established Sapir Luciano Cavalcoli, who founded the S. Vitale industrial port following in the steps of Enrico Mattei, founder of ENI, who aimed at the Italian energy independence, with the support of several influential political figures such as DC politician Benigno Zaccagnini.

As a matter of fact, these relatively new firms headquartered in North-Eastern Italy are at risk of shutting down.

The last summit of the Region organized by the regional Department of productive activities on February the 1st upon the request of the Ravenna institutions and socio-economic powers focused on the measures that local political forces are planning to take in order to oppose the socio-economic disaster expected. The first priority is safeguarding jobs, with respect for and in order to protect safety and environment, but without destroying the achievements obtained in over half a century of activities. According to the Ravenna offshore contract workers association’s (ROCA) estimates, the offshore sector amounts to some 1,000 enterprises, 10,000 direct workers and a several tens of thousands of employees in satellite activities, with Ravenna boasting 13% of the companies representing 29% of the total employment.

General Confederation of Italian Industry representative Guido Ottolenghi (PIR) pointed out that these measures amount to an ideological and totalitarian sentence as there was no confrontation between the parties: “Prejudicial oppositions might affect also other sectors, and uncertainty is the entrepreneurs’ worst enemy”.

Ravenna Mayor Michele de Pascale organized a meeting held on February the 5th and gathering all the stakeholders ranging from entrepreneurs to trade unions, as well as environmental associations and workers, and he invited also the Italian Government.

“On behalf of the entire offshore economic industry, I ask to stop the approval of this demagogic measure which will seriously damage one of the most important economic sectors in Italy”, Mayor publicly appealed to Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who declared to be in favour of natural gas extraction, provided that it is carried out offshore.

“Being the less polluting fossil fuel, natural gas is essential for the urgent shift towards renewable energies. The amendment proposed will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, damaging families and increasing the cost of energy, thus forcing Italy to depend exclusively on imported energy sources and to be subjected to multinational companies, as well as preventing it from achieving safety.

It will also increase scepticism towards Italy on the part of investors, thus exposing the Government to serious international arbitration disputes, with onerous claims for compensation.

Moreover, we do not have financial hedges because the increase in fees will be subject to onerous appeals, thus resulting in waivers of concessions. Therefore, thinking that an increase in fees will result in an increase of proceeds is unreal, De Pascale went on, emphasizing also other controversial issue: this measure does not protect the environment, rather it will increase emissions because it does not reduce fossil fuels consumption. In fact, it simply damages the Italian production, favouring importations; in order to be transported, gas extracted abroad has a 30% dispersion, with the consequent emissions.

A public protest in favour of drilling activities was held on February the 9th in Rome to prevent the anti-drilling amendment from being included in the Simplifications Decree-Law. In fact, the serious issue of energy transition and energy policies in Italy was dealt with irresponsibly with an amendment submitted at night: “We want this wrong, untimely and definitive amendment to be stopped as it is not based on an in-depth debate, nor on parliamentary hearings of the economic categories, trade union organizations, Universities and of all the entities dealing with energy issues. If it is applied, this method might be used also to deal with other equally strategic issues, therefore any other Italian vital economic sector might be subject to it in the future”, Emilia-Romagna Region president Stefano Bonaccini explained.

“This provision will destroy an entire sector, stopping work and investments. In order to begin the energy transition you need to start a confrontation, as we are already doing in Emilia-Romagna, without destroying jobs and without increasing Italy’s energy dependence. Therefore, the territory of Ravenna must be excluded from the Government’s stay order related to drilling activities, taking into account the territorial agreements in force in the Ravenna offshore district resulting from the cooperation process carried out by the population towards sustainability and a reorganization of drilling activities”, Bonaccini pointed out to the Italian Government.

Ravenna has been producing methane obtained from gas since 60 years without damaging the environment, as our marine oasis Po Delta Park confirms. This absurd measure is based on the erroneous theories of factious geologists holding that earthquakes in the High Adriatic, a region exposed to serious seismic risks, are ascribable to anthropic causes, i.e. drilling activities.

The government’s imprudent decision to stop upstream industry in Ravenna, preventing every search for and creation of wells in the sea for 18 months, with a consequent 25-fold increase of the annual fees for hydrocarbon production and storage, was accompanied by the news that the Zagreb Government has just issued a call for tender to look for other fields. Therefore Italy will soon be forced to purchase oil & gas from its competitors, as in the case of energy produced by transalpine nuclear plants.   

Angelo Scorza 

TAG : Ports