After the Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010, Italy’s then Prime Minister, Sergio Berlusconi, put a ban on all offshore gas exploration in Italian waters, fearful of a similar disaster. The new Prime Minister, Mario Monti, in an attempt to stimulate the economy and aid the debt crisis, has proposed to relax the ban.
Companies such as Eni SpA (ENI), Edison SpA (EDN), and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) will be permitted to return to shallow water projects within 7 miles of the Italian coast, which they had to abandon following the ban two years ago.
In his attempt to attract more oil and gas to the energy-poor nation Monti is ignoring environmental protestors, and pushing for his bill to be passed by parliament as soon as possible. Corrado Passera, the Economic Development Minister, believes that if successful, Italian offshore crude oil output could double within two years and attract as much as $18 billion in foreign investment.