Italy plans to suspend the issuing of 36 pending oil and gas exploration permits, as the government finds upstream oil and gas activity not of strategic importance to the country.
At the same time, the ruling populist coalition government, in power since June 2018, is looking to significantly boost the share of renewable energy in Italy’s power mix and total energy consumption, including in the transportation sector.
The current government strongly supports Italy’s push to have as much renewable energy in its energy consumption as possible. The previous government also backed the rise of renewables and drafted a strategy to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2025. The new government is keeping the targets of the previous cabinet and has even increased some of the clean energy targets for Italy’s energy consumption and generation, in a bid to cut more carbon emissions in the country.
The government has drafted an amendment to legislation proposing to block the issuing of oil and gas drilling permits, Italy’s Industry Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, noting that the proposal would be discussed in the next few days at the relevant committees in Parliament.
The proposed legislation would halt the issue of a total of 36 drilling permits, including three permits that have already been issued for drilling in the Ionian Sea, Industry Undersecretary responsible for energy, Davide Crippa, said.
Italy—Europe’s fourth-largest energy consumer—is heavily dependent on imports to meet about 93 percent of its oil and natural gas needs.
Italy is estimated to be currently producing just 7.5 percent of its natural gas demand, while its domestic oil production accounts for only 7.3 percent of demand.
The country imports most of the oil it needs, and has the second-largest refining capacity in Europe, second only to Germany. According to Oil & Gas Journal data quoted by the EIA, the total refining capacity in Italy is just over 2.1 million bpd from 13 crude oil refineries.
In natural gas, Italy ranks second in terms of natural gas imports in Europe after Germany, and it is Europe’s third-biggest consumer of natural gas after Germany and the United Kingdom.
Italy’s previous government unveiled at the end of 2017 a new national energy strategy aiming to phase out coal in electricity generation by 2025, and significantly boost the share of renewables in total energy and electricity consumption.
In the framework document drafted by the ministries of economic development and environment, Italy planned to have 28 percent of its total energy consumption covered by renewable energy sources by 2030, compared to 17.5 percent in 2015. The target for renewables in electricity generation is to achieve a share of 55 percent by 2030, up from 33.5 percent in 2015. In the transportation sector, Italy targets renewables at a 21-percent share by 2030, versus 6.4 percent in 2015.
The current government has a more ambitious target for renewable energy in the total final energy consumption—30 percent by 2030, according to the latest national plan on energy and climate published at the end of 2018.
In 2017, according to the latest available annual figures, some 35 percent of Italy’s electricity production came from renewable energy sources. Of the renewable energy sources, hydropower accounted for 35 percent, solar power represented 23 percent, bio-energy had a 19-percent share, wind energy accounted for 17 percent of all renewable energy-generated electricity, and geothermal energy accounted for 6 percent of the renewable share of the power mix.