Measures restricting oil and gas activity offshore Italy, included as part of the country’s 2016 budget plan, will likely affect development plans for its Ombrina Mare field but will not affect production at the Guendalina gas field, according to one of the partners in the field.
Rockhopper Exploration, which has various interests in the Greater Mediterranean region, confirmed Wednesday that the new Budget Law (which came into force on January 1) reintroduces restrictions on offshore oil and gas activity that includes a general ban on exploration and production activity with 12 nautical miles of the coast of Italy.
The move represents a return to the spirit of Decree No. 128/10, which was introduced in August 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and was implemented by the Italian government in order to protect marine and coastal areas. Another decree published in 2012, No. 83/12, lifted the ban for certain offshore projects.
The Ombrina Mare field is located within the 12-mile limit, so Rockhopper said that it would conduct an in-depth review of the latest legislation in order to see how the exploration permit is affected and the associated impact on the Ombrina Mare project.
However, in spite of the reintroduction of restrictions, there remain exceptions for certain existing production concessions. Rockhopper pointed out that none of its other interests that are located offshore Italy are affected, including the Guendalina production concession – in which Rockhopper has a 20-percent stake but is operated by ENI.