Italy to fast track permit for new regasification vessel

Model of LNG tanker is seen in front of Italy's flag in this illustration taken May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

MILAN, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Italy will fast track the permitting process to set up a new regasification vessel aimed at expanding the country's capacity to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) in an effort to cut its dependence on Russia, Rome told the European Commission.

In a letter to the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Italy's Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said the project would be exempt from Rome's environmental impact assessment, which can slow down significantly the construction of infrastructure projects.

"Any delays or obstacles likely to prevent from timely implementation (of the regasification vessel) would be contrary to the interests of Italian citizens and would end up jeopardising the country's energy security," the minister said in the letter posted on the website of Italy's special commissioner for energy infrastructure.

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State-controlled gas grid operator Snam (SRG.MI) in June bought a floating LNG regasification terminal (FSRU) to support the country's effort to find alternative gas supplies.

Floating LNG regasification units allow a country to source natural gas from far-away areas, reducing the need to receive gas from usual suppliers through existing pipelines.

Under the government project, Snam's new vessel will be moored in the port of Piombino, in Tuscany, to be connected with the country's gas network by the spring of 2023.

The vessel has a capacity of 5 billion cubic metres of gas a year and will remain in Piombino for three years before being placed offshore.

Italy last year bought around 29 billion cubic metres of Russian gas, equal to nearly 40% of its total gas import.

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Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by David Holmes

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