Lukoil names new head for Italian refinery amid sale talks

Illustration shows natural gas pipeline and Lukoil logo
Model of natural gas pipeline and Lukoil logo, July 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

ROME, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Lukoil (LKOH.MM) has named a new top manager at its refinery in Sicily amid efforts by the Italian government to find a buyer for the plant and shield it from sanctions on Russian oil.

The Russian group has picked Eugene Maniakhine as director general at its ISAB plant in the Sicilian town of Priolo, Lukoil's Italian unit said in a statement on Thursday.

The new DG, who has previously held various managerial positions at Lukoil in Switzerland and the Netherlands, was presented to the staff on Tuesday.

According to an industrial source, U.S. private equity fund Crossbridge Energy Partners is interested in buying the refinery and is reviewing the plant's business.

Crossbridge and Lukoil declined to comment.

A sale to a non-Russian investor would avert the risk of a halt of ISAB, which accounts for around 20% of Italian refining capacity and directly employs some 1,000 workers in one of the poorest areas of Italy.

Unions and local administrations have been asking for the government to intervene after the European union decided an embargo on seaborne Russian oil due to start in December.

Italy's Ecological Transition minister has recently said that Rome favours the sale of ISAB to an international buyer as an alternative to nationalisation.

The plant has recorded a turnover of around 3 billion euros ($2.96 billion) last year.

($1 = 1.0118 euros)

Reporting by Angelo Amante and Olesya Astakhova; writing by Francesca Landini; editing by David Evans

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