To tackle the energy crisis, the “Aiuti quarter” law decree (no. 176/2022), published in the Official Gazette (Gazzetta Ufficiale) last Friday and came into force Saturday, November 19, introduced a provision (the so-called “Sblocca-Trivelle”), which limits the current ban on the exploration of gas fields at sea, already subjected to several regulatory interventions over the last years.
The new provision contained in Article 4 (“Measures to increase natural gas production”), establishes that:
- granting new concessions for the production of (liquid and gaseous) hydrocarbons between 9 and 12 miles from the coastlines and the outer perimeter of protected marine and coastal areas is allowed, limited to sites with a gas mining potential for a certain reserve quantity exceeding 500 million cubic metres;
- operators who acquire ownership of these concessions are required to comply with the GSE tender procedures for the long-term supply of natural gas;
- the same procedures apply to production concessions located in the stretch of sea between the 45th parallel and the parallel passing through the mouth of the Goro branch of the river Po, at a distance of more than 9 miles from the coastline and with a gas mining potential for a certain reserve quantity above a threshold of 500 million cubic metres;
- the abovementioned production is allowed for the duration of the useful life of the deposit on condition that the holders of the concessions comply with the procedures of the GSE and by submitting technical-scientific analyses and detailed monitoring and verification programmes of the absence of significant effects of subsidence on the coast lines assigned to the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security.
Therefore, the exemptions are valid only for gas production concessions (not for liquid hydrocarbon permits) and, in particular, for sites characterised by a high mining potential (the deposit with a capacity of more than 500 million cubic metres).
According to the Government’s estimates, an additional 15 billion cubic metres of gas in ten years will be available, to be allocated to Italy’s energy-intensive companies. The regulated price will fall within a range of between 50 and 100 Euros per megawatt hour, a much lower value than the approximately 153 Euros, which is the current benchmark for the Italian market.
The “Aiuti quarter” law decree may be subject to any changes at the time of conversion into law, which must take place within 60 days of its entry into force, therefore by 18 January 2023.