The Italian politicians attended Ravenna’s great offshore event making promises but without actual commitments
Lega representative Giorgetti and M5S Castelli attended the 3-day meeting OMC Offshore Mediterranean Conference, where the active role of operators in the energy industry was confirmed, although without receiving adequate answers from Rome, which learnt a lesson about energy policies by Ravenna’s young Mayor
Ravenna – The 2019 edition of the OMC Offshore Mediterranean Conference organized by small and medium-sized Ravenna-based companies within the oil & gas drilling sector (gathered in the Ravenna Offshore Contractors Association ROCA) since 1993 was attended by 634 exhibitors from 33 countries, and by over 20,000 visitors and representatives.
Besides international politicians, also Italian ones visited the Pala De Andrè exhibition centre, named after Ferruzzi Group’s lawyer Mauro De Andrè and opened in 1990 to host sports, trade and arts events.
The conference was opened by Under-Secretary to the Presidency of the Council of Italian Ministers Giancarlo Giorgetti, “escorted” by Ravenna Mayor Michele De Pascale, by the conference chairman Michele Titone and by OMC president Renzo Righini.
Despite his concern for the oil & gas issues, the “green” representative of the government did not remove doubts about the lifting of restrictions on hydrocarbons extraction prospecting which, in compliance with the “Simplifications Decree-Law” implemented by the executive, should stop for 18 months.
The Government’s under-secretary undertook to report the operators’ and trade unions’ appeals to the decision-making bodies in Rome.
“The Mediterranean regained its strategic role in international geopolitics with regard to political and energy issues, and Italy must take advantage of it. Therefore, it is essential that gas transport infrastructures do not stop. Eastmed and LNG can represent a great opportunity in terms of safety and saving, and they can provide a contribution in terms of diversification of sources”, Giorgetti explained during the Opening Session. “The need to ensure supplies at economically sustainable conditions caused us to diversify supplier countries and sources, aiming at achieving climate objectives, making significant progress in saving and energy efficiency thanks to our improvements in renewables.
In this scenario, gas plays a vital role since it is the less polluting fossil fuel. However, in the past 15 years, against a 400 billion cubic meters consumption the production recorded a 40% deficit, currently achieving slightly more than 150 billion cubic meters, thus forcing us to increase importations. The Ravenna district, built by local entrepreneurs in 60 years, clearly gained international relevance, and the political party that I represent is determined to protect and stimulate it in order for it to remain a Mediterranean reference”, the under-secretary added, complaining about the slow-down in activities and investments over the past 10 years, which affected also employment. “Without investments, economic activities cannot thrive. I am pleased about the resumption of the LNG coastal depot project in the port since, by supplying gas tanks with LNG carriers, it will promote Ravenna’s essential role in the energy sector”.
Then Giorgetti focused on the controversial issues of the recent provisions concerning the identification of hydrocarbons prospecting, research and drilling areas, and of the Italian integrated energy and climate plan (PNIEC) proposal that the Government submitted to Brussels in January. “My party has always emphasized the need to reconcile environmental safeguard with the socio-economical requirement not to compromise initiatives with significant financial commitments. For instance, ENI’s 2 billion investments to modernize several Adriatic platforms will increase the volumes of gas extracted, affecting the entire sector. The provisions of the “Simplifications Decree-Law” must be implemented especially with regards to the National Program of Community Interest (PNIC) in order to combine environmental sustainability and potential of a strategic sector”, Giorgetti continued, promising to report the proposals to institutional bodies, and emphasizing the need for energy sovereignty.
Having thanked the under-secretary for his attendance, Ravenna Mayor confirmed that the Romagna-based energy cluster will provide the Government with the necessary technical and scientific support to change its policies about extraction activities.
Pointing out that Ravenna is one of the most important Adriatic industrial ports, as it is part of the TEN-T network – along 2 of the 9 Mediterranean and Baltic-Adriatic corridors and among the 83 European core ports – De Pascale referred to the Port Hub Project, which will ensure the deepening of water-depths for all the companies and investors interested in the port. Moreover, the project will result in significant investments such as the new container terminal at Piallassa Piomboni, favouring also the new relations with China concerning the New Silk Road.
“Chemistry, in particular elastomers and circular economy, as well as natural gas extraction and offshore activities are the foundations of the administration’s industrial policies, aiming at favouring investors by reducing bureaucracy and simplifying town-planning instruments, i.e. promoting a faster permitting, interacting with companies which are willing to invest in the territory and favouring the development of planning ideas. Several important companies are investing in Ravenna: the chemicals multinational companies Yara, Orion Carbon and Eni-Versalis – Syndial; PIR with the installation of the LNG storage plant, Rosetti Marino and Marcegaglia with expansion projects. Emilia-Romagna boasts almost 1,000 companies within the upstream industry, with 10,000 employees and another 100,000 workers in satellite activities, in particular Ravenna, with 13% of the companies and 29% of the regional employment within the sector. Our objectives for the upcoming years will be obtaining energy with the lowest impact possible on the environment and at the lowest price possible, therefore we must invest in renewable energies and natural gas, gradually setting aside the most polluting sources. In terms of energy policies, the offshore industry is the great answer, and the sea is the great opportunity. Therefore, we are very concerned because Italy adopted a wrong energy strategy, and it might refuse possible Italian and foreign investments, thus jeopardizing the energy development of the Country. The OMC is urging the Italian Government and Parliament to amend the “Simplifications Decree-Law” of January, thus changing the regulations governing extraction activities and basing authorizations only on scientific and environmental evaluations in order to safeguard employment in this strategic sector. At present, a national energy policy can only be based on the combination of investments in renewables, LNG extraction and importation of gas in a progressively limited quantity”, De Pascale concluded.
The second day of the kermess focused on the Eastern Mediterranean potential, being a regional hub with its gas fields.
“The East Med is a world-class hydrocarbon province. After Zohr, the new discoveries announced in Cyprus’ EEZ and in Egypt in 2018 and 2019 are developing the area’s capacity, and new activities will soon be launched in Lebanon, Cyprus and Egypt”, ENI Chief Exploration Officer Luca Bertelli declared.
“After having met national markets’ demands, exportations of the East Med’s exceeding gas should favour the full use of the infrastructures and of the existing liquefaction capacity in Egypt, which is currently not used. Probably, further investments in explorations and new discoveries are needed to justify the creation of new expensive LNG plants in Cyprus, or the construction of transport pipelines towards Europe. The collaboration between Mediterranean Countries will be essential to share synergies in transport and liquefaction infrastructures, as well as to provide competitive gas supplies to Europe and to other Northern-Mediterranean markets”.
The XIV edition of the OMC hosted also the meeting on ‘Internationalization & capacity building for a sustainable business environment in Oil&Gas producing countries’, focusing on environmental sustainability with regards to the sector and opened by Assomineraria president Luigi Ciarrocchi, with the participation of Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance Laura Castelli.
During the meeting, they presented and discussed the association’s (representing over 120 companies within the industry) choice to create partnerships with Oil&Gas producing Countries, in particular Mozambique.
“We want to attract investments in order to produce natural resources locally, to implement cooperation with the Italian industrial system and to develop local infrastructures and know-how, aiming at a long-term sustainable development. This is based also on the creation of a legal framework to favour the development of a local infrastructure and the creation of an industrial capacity in Mozambique”, Assomineraria president explained.
“Italy must promote a new national energy policy ensuring the lowest impact possible on the environment, supporting economic growth and ensuring the lowest cost of energy possible, as well as certain supplies.
This objective can be achieved only by involving all the stakeholders in order to strategically redefine the national and international energy policy with other Countries producing oil and gas, thus achieving the right balance between economic growth, industrial development and social sustainability”, the M5S’ representative declared during the workshop attended by Assomineraria vice-president Sergio Polito, EniProgetti CEO Luciano Vasques, RINA Consulting executive deputy chairman Leonardo Brunori and by the representative of the Mozambican Instituto Nacional de Petroleo Reinaldo Almeida.