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Regasifiers in Italy

Having risen to prominence due to the gas-related energy crisis, regasification plants in general and regasification plants in Italy have known a notoriety and interest that was probably not foreseen. 

What seemed to be a reality only for ‘experts’ has entered the homes of Italians and the main television news formats.

Even if, we must admit, the spotlight on the issue is diminishing and the new economic policies on the ‘bulletins’, which have just been launched, have soothed the most active spirits, the question of whether regasification terminals are a resource deserves further study. 

The acronym LNG refers to liquefied natural gas, i.e. gas that is found in liquid form due to a cooling process, but how is this acronym associated with regasification plants? 

To know more… 

Regasification plants in Italy 

A regasification terminal in Italy is a plant with a precise function: to return a substance whose state is fluid, such as gas, to a gaseous state. LNG regasifiers are the best known examples of these, since by bringing the gas to its gaseous state, they allow it to be distributed in the various pipelines and consequently used. Regasifiers in Italy can be of two types: 

  • on earth 
  • at sea and in the latter case they can be: real artificial islands or ships called FSRUs (Floating storage and regasification) 

Only a few decades ago, demand for the amount of gas needed was thought to be quite predictable and constant, but the reality has deviated from that prediction by no small margin: why? The use of gas for the production of electricity.

Some significant data:

  • current gas production covers 30% of national needs
  • domestic gas production is one-fifth; therefore, it is evident that our supply depends on foreign countries
  • the geopolitical scenario of the past year has, perhaps definitively changed the previous balance between gas supply and demand between our nation and its historical suppliers (primarily Russia).

The current political class will therefore have to continue to follow the path traced by the previous government, i.e., to lead an important transition aimed at increasingly diversifying gas-supplying countries. The importance of continuing with an energy policy aimed at energy independence acquires even more significance if we consider the policy expressed by the European Community regarding energy transition. On 18 May 2022, the European Commission proposed the REPowerEU package, which provides for investments and reforms with the aim of diversifying energy supply and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. 

LNG ship tankers and regasifiers in Italy 

LNG ship tankers are an essential part of regasification plants, as they are designed to import the liquid gas (LNG), they receive from the gas liquefaction plants of the exporting countries. The advantage lies in the fact that LNG occupies less space than the aeriform gas and represents a real opportunity for greater energy independence. Indeed, thanks to regasification plants, LNG transformed into gaseous form could supply one third of our country’s annual gas needs and make an important contribution to European requirements.

If we wanted to use a comparison with the world of athletics, we could define it as a real relay race because: 

  • the LNG ship tankers arrive in the vicinity of the FSRUs and transfer the liquid gas to the terminals
  • this transfer takes place through steel unloading booms positioned in the FSRUs
  • once transferred, the LNG is stored and regasified according to market demand 

Each of the phases listed above, from storage to liquid gas transfer, requires important skills and technologies for which Italy could certainly play a strategic role.

Today the operating regasification plants in Italy are:

  • Livorno (FSRU)
  • On earth  Panigaglia (Spezia) 
  • Rovigo (artificial island) 

The plant in Panigaglia is owned exclusively by Snam, the energy company that has full control of the Italian gas pipeline network and that we actually find with different percentages as a shareholder in almost all Italian plants. 

The current Minister of Ecological Transition is firmly convinced that the way  ‘to replace the 29 billion cubic metres that are currently imported from Russia’ is precisely to use the regasifiers currently present and to equip Italy with other facilities.

So what will be new for 2023? Let’s see together which areas will be designated to receive new regasifiers in Italy:

  • Ravenna
  • Piombino: an FSRU (owned by Snam) 
  • Porto Empedocle (designed by Enel) 
  • Gioia Tauro (for Sorgenia and IREN) 

Last March, after signing the ‘Sardinia’ DPCM, the island could also accelerate its energy divorce from Russia, as two FSRU LNG carriers and a regasification plant are planned:

  • Portovesme (to supply the industrial South and Cagliari)
  • Porto Torres (to supply the industrial North and Sassari) 

Finally, a regasifier with a capacity of 20,000 cubic metres of gas should be installed in the port of Oristano by Edison Company. 

For the sake of completeness with respect to the regasifiers in Italy, we also report the skeptical opinions, for example of Greenpeace, concerning the timing; the organization, in fact, considers the forecasts that would have the Piombino plant (scheduled for March 2023) and the Ravenna plant (scheduled for summer 2024) effectively operating, to be too optimistic.

For having a more precise picture of the sector’s potential, in addition to the structural investments planned in Italy, it should be remembered that numerous investments are announced in Northern and North-Western Europe for the construction of new plants or for the expansion of existing ones. 

In such applications, characterized by demanding operating conditions (both with high and cryogenic temperatures), the importance of guaranteeing reliable connections, capable of accommodating thermal expansion and operating vibrations, represents a technological aspect of fundamental importance. 

For years Tubiflex’s mission has been the constant research and innovation, and through the production of hoses of the highest quality (in the naval and industrial sectors, but not only) we seek to create ‘connections’ capable of making any process fluid and functional. 


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