News wire — Italy is invoking the need for energy security in the face of Russian supply cuts to rush through in a matter of months a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal – a process that would normally take years due to local objections and permitting.
A preliminary go-ahead for the 5 billion cubic metre capacity (bcm) project in the port of Piombino in the central region of Tuscany, could come as soon as Friday, people close to the matter told Reuters.
Such a big-scale project will help Italy avert a supply crunch it could otherwise face next winter, but keep it hooked on gas for longer, slowing down its transition to renewable energy.
As part of a plan by the outgoing government of Mario Draghi to replace dwindling Russian gas pipeline supplies in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, Rome has mandated gas grid operator Snam to spend around $400 million to set up a new floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) and have it operational by end-March.
A new rightist government, widely expected to be led by Giorgia Meloni, could be sworn in as soon as next week, with no sign that Rome’s line on Piombino project – endorsed by Italy’s industrial lobby Confindustria – could be changed.
“Our schedule is so tight that each single additional day to approve the project means one day less of gas in our grid,” Elio Ruggeri, the head of Snam’s LNG business, told Reuters.