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article imageItaly goes for offshore drilling, will the Mediterranean survive?

By R. C. Camphausen     Jun 12, 2010 in Environment
L'aquila - The oil spill disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico does not seem to alarm politicians in Italy, where the government is going ahead to permit offshore drilling a mere five kilometres off the coastline, close to where a 2009 earthquake hit L'Aquila.
Despite the huge warning signs that should by now accompany every effort aimed at offshore drilling for oil, the Italian government under PM Berlusconi is ignoring various calls to review the contracts and permits recently awarded to oil companies. This means that offshore drilling may soon be a reality in the Adriatic Sea, especially in the region known as Abruzzo, the capital of which is L'aquila ... famous because of the 2009 earthquake that destroyed eleven thousand buildings.
According to a report on France 24, the local population has successfully kept Italian energy giant ENI from getting any permit to drill for oil inland, among the olive groves so to say, but protesters have not been able to keep three companies from acquiring permits to drill offshore, even as close as five kilometres off the coastline.
Despite the dire warning, in the form of the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the government seems determined to go ahead with offshore drilling, for which licenses have been granted to Canadian, Irish and UK owned companies. None of these have a record as bad as British Petroleum (BP), but the risks being taken by the Italian government are especially high because an accident in the Mediterranean would not only harm the Italian shores, but also those of Greece, Albania, Croatia, Monte Negro; perhaps even farther afield.
In view of this multinational risk, perhaps the EU has some small print somewhere that can put a halt to this.
The companies having permits to drill off Abruzzo are these: Vega Oil, a subsidiary of Cygam Energy Incorporated (Canada), Petroceltic Elsa, a subsidiary of Petroceltic International (Ireland), and Medoilgas Italia, a subsidiary of MOG (UK).
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