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Southern Italy is the world’s second largest producer of olive oil, and under the olive tree groves in the Basilicata region, a mountainous, sparsely populated province that is situated in the arch of Italy’s boot, geologists found Europe’s biggest onshore crude oil fields.
Production of the fields began in the 1990s, but development was slow as many environmental campaigns and bureaucratic delays hampered progress.
In 2012, as part of a plan to end a two year recession, the worst in over twenty years, the Italian government decided that increases oil and gas production would be important to boosting the economy. Delays to the development of the oil fields are now miraculously falling away, and EniSpA and Total plan to double their production from the fields to raise Italy’s output to around 200,000 barrels a day, from the current level of 101,000 barrels a day.
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Last year, former Prime Minister Mario Monti gave Total permission to develop its new Tempa Rossa oil field, and Eni are in talks with local authorities to increase production in the Val d’Agri, which on the back of strong campaigning from environmentalists was turned into a national park in 2007.
Carlo Stagnaro, head of research at the Instituto Bruno Leoni, said that “talk of freedom from energy dependence is an overstatement, but increasing production can certainly be an opportunity for Italy. The real point for Eni is whether, after respecting all the laws and health and environmental requirements, the gain is worth the costs, if so then they need to forge ahead.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com