Italy's Snam to Select Offshore Site for New FSRU in Early 2023

Illustration only - Credit: Karel/AdobeStock
Illustration only - Credit: Karel/AdobeStock

Itay's Snam will choose the offshore site for its new floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) in the next 100 days, Italy's special commissioner for the project said on Friday, with its initial location already facing a legal challenge.

Under the government's plan to diversify energy supply away from Russian gas, Italy's gas grid operator plans to moor the newly-bought FSRU in the port of Piombino, on Italy's west coast, for the next three years. 

After this period, it has committed to moving the floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to an offshore destination that it was expected to name on Friday. 

"Snam is finding a solution... the group asked for 150 days of extension. That's too long; I'll give Snam an additional 100 days to find an offshore site that will hopefully be away from the Tuscan coast," state-appointed commissioner for the project Eugenio Giani said. 

Giani is also the president of Tuscany, where the port of Piombino is located. 

The delay has triggered criticism by Piombino's Mayor Francesco Ferrari, who has been leading the opposition against the planned new infrastructure.

"The extension granted to Snam is ridiculous... the risk is that the ship will remain in our port for longer, and this is unacceptable," Ferrari said in a statement.

Piombino's mayor, a member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party, launched a legal challenge against the FSRU last month. 

The appeal to an Italian administrative court includes a precautionary request to suspend work to set up the vessel, on which the court is expected to rule at a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 21.

Preliminary work to prepare the site has been continuing, with a tight deadline to have it ready by April in order to help Italy import gas to prepare for next winter.

"Snam's commitment to relocate the vessel away from the port of Piombino after three years is confirmed," Snam's FSRU Italia Managing Director Elio Ruggeri told Reuters on Friday.

"We need to complete our analysis about the mooring system for the FSRU and search for other possible offshore locations also alternative to the coast of Tuscany," Ruggeri said.

The group is looking at the possibility of moving the vessel to an offshore site in central or northern Italy to avoid congestion on the gas transport network connecting the south of Italy to the northern regions where the many manufacturers are located, he added.      

 (Reporting by Francesca Landini and Silvia Ognibene/Editing by Keith Weir)

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