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Italy wagers on lng – ravenna gets the go ahead for the first storage facility on the adriatic coast



Liquefied Natural Gas: following the endorsement by the Ministry of the Environment work has recently begun on the Ravenna hub, expected to be operative by 2021. Not the only one though: the newly built plant in Oristano, Sardinia, is expected to up and running in 2019 and should be followed by Porto Marghera three years later. "The real revolution starts here and now", says Federmetano

Guido Gambassi

The first LNG storage facility on the Adriatic coast will be built in Ravenna, and is expected to be fully operative early in 2021, following investments in the region of 160 million euro by the PIR Group and Edison. After the go-ahead from the Ministry of Economic Development last February, construction works are set to start in October. The plant will be equipped with two large 10,000 cubic metres storage tanks located in an area of 23,000 square metres near the Bunge Spa and Enel plants, along the Port of Ravenna.

"This will be the first hub on the Adriatic coast", states Licia Balboni, president of Federmetano, “and will be followed, probably a year later, by another storage plant in Porto Marghera, under the VeniceLng S.p.A. banner, with the participation of Decal S.p.A. and San Marco Gas. The first National hub is in Oristano (and belongs to Higas) – expected to be operative already during the first half of 2019 - which will allow the island region to receive liquefied natural gas, currently impossible due to a lack of pipelines."

Italy is preparing to comply with European directives on the mandatory use of low-sulphur fuels from 2021. But more importantly, these projects represent essential infrastructural investments for the future of the country’s mobility, with road haulage as the main beneficiary, bridging the current gap with other European countries, despite the widespread diffusion of CNG in the country. The use of LNG is in fact strategic for the overall efficiency of the road haulage sector in both economic and environmental terms thanks to lower emissions, but so far this advantage was strongly limited by the lack of an Italian distribution hub, in fact all the LNG used in Italy arrives by land on vehicles coming from the coastal depots of Barcelona or Marseilles.

Hence the strategic value of the depots under construction, as Balboni highlights: "The gas stored on national soil, will reduce the costs and make it even more competitive than other fuels. The economic benefits for transport companies will then be even more evident. Road transport distributes 85% of the goods in Italy. In recent years, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MiT) has been promoting, through incentives, a complete renewal of the National transport fleet favouring LNG (€ 20,000 per vehicle) and CNG (up to € 8,000), with financial instruments that will probably be made available also for the 2018/2019 period in similar amounts. The main thrust, however, came from the clients of transport companies, who are increasingly calling for a certified and “green” supply chain for their products, including sustainable transport systems with the lowest possible Carbon Footprint".

The Ravenna LNG Terminal project involves also the implementation of a supply chain for the transport of liquefied gas with specialized LNG carriers, dedicated storage facilities, and tanker trucks. Furthermore, additional infrastructures are needed to allow the berthing of LNG carriers with load capacity between 7,500 and 27,500 m3, as well as berthing facilities for smaller LNG carriers with a capacity between 1,000 and 4,000 m3, transferring the liquefied gas to the storage tanks and from these to the carriers ("terminal to ship"), through loading arms, and distributing the product in the market through tanker trucks ("terminal to truck").

A not to be missed opportunity to confirm Italy’s leadership in the use of natural gas, in terms of vehicles, distribution facilities, and technological development: "The situation has radically changed - explains Federmetano -, and now there are 20 LNG stations operating in the country (there were 15 in 2017). This development is also involving central and southern Italy with a new plant in Mesagne (BR) and by June 21 a new station is expected to open in Campania, the first on a motorway. New plants are being inaugurated at the rate of a couple each month. By the end of 2018, LNG service stations in the country should be around 35 growing almost at the same double-digit rate as the registration of new LNG powered trucks. In 2017, in fact, approximately 300 LNG vehicles were registered in Italy, and only in the first 4 months of 2018 over 500 units were registered (ANFIA processing on MiT data). "

An encouraging development for the entire Italian logistics and mobility system, which combines economic savings and environmental sustainability. "The real revolution starts here and now; gas - CNG, LNG, bio-methane and liquid bio-methane - is not only the perfect response to harmful emissions issues, it is also the most sustainable in terms of efficiency and infrastructure, which are already available and working, "concludes Licia Balboni. "Natural gas, therefore, is proving to be a protagonist on the energy market as well as real solution for future mobility issues, just like electricity".

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