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Exxon Picks BlackRock As Buyer Of Its 71% Stake In Italian LNG Terminal

ExxonMobil has selected the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, as a buyer for its 70.7% stake in Adriatic LNG, Italy’s first regasification import terminal, the U.S. supermajor told Reuters on Wednesday.

Exxon currently holds 70.7% of Adriatic LNG via its subsidiary ExxonMobil Italiana Gas. The other shareholders in Italy’s main LNG import terminal off the Adriatic coast in northern Italy are a unit of QatarEnergy with a 22% stake and Italian state-controlled gas grid operator Snam with 7.3%.

According to anonymous sources who spoke to Reuters, Snam could raise its stake in Adriatic LNG to 30% to obtain governance rights on the LNG import terminal.

Exxon has not reached a final agreement on the sale yet, a spokesperson for the supermajor told Reuters.

The U.S. company said earlier this year it was planning to sell its stake in Adriatic LNG as part of its strategy to divest non-core assets.

At least four institutional investors and infrastructure funds, including BlackRock, were being considered for the deal, Reuters reported in May. Back then, expectations were that the deal would value the entire Adriatic LNG terminal at around $840 million (800 million euros).

The regasification terminals and plans for more LNG import facilities in Italy and the rest of Europe have been a focus of many EU governments after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the halt of a large part of Russian pipeline gas supply to many of Moscow’s previous EU customers.

Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Greece have all been adding new LNG import infrastructure as European LNG imports have surged since early 2022 to compensate for the lack of Russian gas, which the EU plans to ditch altogether by 2027.

In Italy, the newest LNG import terminal at Piombino received in July the first commercial LNG cargo from a Sonatrach liquefaction plant in Algeria.

Italian energy major Eni, which delivered the cargo, has said it expects Italy to eliminate imports of Russian gas within two years.

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Italy, one of the biggest buyers of Russian gas in Europe before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will be independent of Moscow’s gas by the winter of 2024/2025, Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi said in January this year.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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