Italy’s Sorgenia, Iren ready to build large LNG terminal

MILAN, March 8 (Reuters) - Italian energy groups Sorgenia and Iren (IREE.MI) are ready to work on a project to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in southern Italy that would be big enough to cover almost half of gas imports from Russia.

"If the authorities decide to speed things up, the plant could be ready in four years," Sorgenia CEO Gianfilippo Mancini told Reuters in emailed comments.

The terminal, which would be built in the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro, is designed to process 12 billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG per year. Italy imported 29 bcm of gas from Russia last year.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Italy has ramped up efforts to secure alternative gas sources, with LNG-rich Qatar a particular focus of attention.

"Iren is ready to provide the resources and skills to help build the terminal," a spokesman for the Italian regional utility said.

The project, jointly controlled by Sorgenia and Iren, completed the permitting process several years ago before being put on standby.

"We are working with the authorities to see if the permits are confirmed," the Iren spokesman said.

Italy's complex permitting process has virtually stopped development of LNG facilities beyond the three plants currently operative and which now account for around 20% of daily imports.

The project would form part of Italy's efforts to wean itself off Russian gas. Earlier on Tuesday top utility Enel said it was ready to dust off plans to build an LNG terminal. read more

Italy aims to become independent of Russian gas imports within 24 to 30 months, Energy Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, Editing by Gianluca Semeraro and Paul Simao

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