Italian political faction seeks to end ban on offshore exploration

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ROME (Bloomberg) — Matteo Salvini’s League is seeking to overturn a temporary ban on oil and gas exploration off sections of Italy’s coast, opening a new front in the rightist party’s ongoing skirmish with its populist coalition partner.

The League’s Laura Cavandoli, secretary of the lower house finance commission, presented an amendment earlier this month to allow companies that have been awarded exploration licenses to proceed with their projects, according to two lawmakers and a League official, who asked not to be named discussing pending legislation.

Though the amendment was rejected, the League plans another attempt in coming weeks, one of the lawmakers said. That won’t be included in amendments to a highly debated growth decree, another lawmaker said.

The government in January suspended licenses for 18 months to allow for a nationwide review of oil and gas exploration. That came in the wake of a bitter clash on the issue between the pro-business League and the environmentally minded Five Star. The suspension doesn’t affect permits to drill for extraction.

Lost Revenue

A halt to activity on Italian wells could lead to a reduction in investments of about €400 million ($359 million), according to data reported by financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore, citing industry association Assomineraria. Missed revenue for the government could total €110 million.

Business lobbies and labor unions have urged the government to scrap the suspension. “We need to defend an industrial sector which is important for the area and crucial for Italy,” Stefan Pan, regional director for employers’ lobby Confindustria, said at a rally in the coastal city of Ravenna in March, Ansa news wire reported.

Despite sharing power for just under a year, the League and Five Star have fought on issues from taxes to immigration to infrastructure to security, with tensions escalating in the last weeks of campaigning for Sunday’s European Parliament elections.


Kabir Ismail is a blogger, website developer/administrator and a comrade.

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