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Reuters: Shell says Italy should ease energy permits regime

RAVENNA, Italy, (Reuters) – Italy should ease its permit regime for energy projects and boost domestic oil and gas exploration to diversify energy supplies, a senior executive at Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile , Research) said on Wednesday.

Italy depends heavily on energy imports to meet growing internal demand and needs to import gas to cover about 85 percent of its needs. But international energy company Shell said it has undeveloped oil and gas reserves.

“Italy needs to move forward, it needs a more flexible legal framework,” Tom Botts, Shell’s executive vice-president for European exploration and production said at an energy conference in Ravenna, northern Italy.

Industrial projects in Italy require authorisation at various levels, local and central. Local authorities often oppose such schemes for environmental or aesthetic reasons.

According to Shell’s estimates, Italy has expected remaining oil reserves of about 750 million barrels and residual potential it has yet to find of 400 million to 1,000 million barrels.

Gas reserves are estimated at 160 billion cubic metres (bcm) and reserves yet to be found are seen at 120-200 bcm.

Shell is involved in two exploration and development projects in the southern Italian region of Basilicata — Val d’Agri with Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI: Quote, Profile , Research) and Tempa Rossa with the French company Total (TOTF.PA: Quote, Profile , Research).

Val d’Agri is already operating with about 90,000 barrels per day output and Shell has been seeking permission to expand it, while work on the Tempa Rossa field still needs approval. Total output from the two fields is estimated at 150,000 bpd.

“We are trying … to work with these two operators to unlock the resources,” Botts said.

“It is going to take a cooperative effort between the operators, licence owners and local communities and the government to reach a common ground where we can get the permits and develop the huge underveloped resources in both fields,” Botts told Reuters.

“The alternative is to leave the resource there … that is not good for Italy, for the security of supply that Italy needs,” he said.

Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:43 PM GMT

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