Oil fields under olive groves offer Italy economic boost: energy

New kind of Italian oil: Texas tea

“We don’t want charity, we want investments in new energy sources and sustainable development,” said Marco De Biasi, head of the local branch of environmental protection agency Legambiente, referring to the 10% in royalties that Eni pays to the national and local governments. He said his group will oppose any increase in output past what has already been agreed.

Eni and partner Royal Dutch Shell Plc produce 85,000 barrels of oil per day in Basilicata and have permission to raise that to 104,000 barrels a day in the Val d’Agri, Eni’s head of southern Italy Ruggero Gheller said in an interview. Shell also owns the nearby Tempa Rossa field along with France’s Total SA and Japan’s Mitsui & Co. which the companies say will pump 50,000 barrels a day by 2016.

Eni shares dropped 1.4% to close at 17.84 euros in Rome today.

Total Production

Once all that oil starts flowing, Italy’s total production will be boosted to about 170,000 barrels a day, a 68% increase compared with 2012.

Eni is in talks with local authorities to increase output by another 25,000 barrels a day, and Descalzi says production could be boosted by a further 20,000 in the future. That would more than double current output making Italy Europe’s third- biggest producer, surpassing Denmark which pumped 202,000 barrels a day in 2012, according to the EIA. While Denmark’s production had been declining since 2004, Italy’s has been on the rise since 2009, according to the EIA.

In some respects, Basilicata has been oil country since the Middle Ages.

Small amounts of shiny oil emerge from a natural spring near Viggiano along with bubbles of natural gas emitting a stench more akin to a gas station than the miles of green woods that surround it. Legends also point to oil.

Medieval Statue

The town that houses Eni’s oil processing plant, whose bright red flame can be seen for miles at night, is also home to the Madonna of Viggiano. It’s a medieval statue that according to legend was found by a group of shepherds after seeing mysterious fires in the night.

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