Italy slashes offshore areas open for exploration, development
BY LIAM MOLONEY
ROME -- Italy has reduced the offshore areas where companies can explore and pump out hydrocarbons by almost half, despite having to spend billions of euros to import energy sources.
Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato signed a decree that reduces the area open to oil and natural gas exploration and production activities from 255,000 km2 to 139,000 km2, the ministry said in a statement.
The areas that aren't off limits are away from Italy's coasts and are mainly concentrated where neighbouring countries have allowed such activities, it added.
All new activities are forbidden on the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is on the west side of the peninsula, and within 12 miles of all coast lines and natural sea parks.
The new measures "focus hydrocarbon exploration and development activities in a limited number of marine areas with higher potential and lower environmental impact," said Mr. Zanonato in the statement.
A new area that has been opened up is the one next to the Balearic Islands, adjacent to where there are ongoing Spanish and French activities, the Italian ministry said.
About 90% of Italy's gas needs are imported, mainly from Russia, Algeria and Libya. A similar percentage of oil is imported too.
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