Sun, Nov 11, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Residents split on oil development in Italy’s ‘Texas’

The holder of Europe’s largest onshore oil deposits plans to cut its 62bn euro energy bill and create jobs by boosting production

By John Hooper  /  The Guardian, CORLETO PERTICARA, Italy

In August, the regional assembly declared a moratorium on all further exploration and production in Basilicata. The next day, Basilicata Governor Vito De Filippo of the center-left Democratic Party declared that the petroleum concessions that had already been granted were “at the limits of sustainability.”

His opinion matters because, as the law in Italy stands, approval from his government is essential for future projects to go ahead.

It has not helped that Tempa Rossa is mired in a scandal that is set to unfold as the field is developed. On Sept. 26, four former executives of Total’s Italian subsidiary went on trial in the regional capital of Potenza accused of rigging the tender for the oil treatment center so that the contract went to a consortium headed by a local builder. The builder was in turn accused of paying a 200,000 euro bribe to a Democratic Party deputy in the national parliament.

Total’s former employees are also charged with using a local official to get landowners in the area to take lower-than-market offers for land needed to develop the oil field. All the accused deny wrongdoing.

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