Oil&nonOil: supply chain and institutions supporting the consolidation of LNG in Italy

 In EXHIBITION, Oil&nonOil 2021 Verona

Italy is the European leader as regards the LNG supply chain with companies that in less than ten years have managed to build an efficient and purposeful system for the entire country, thanks not the least to the regulatory work carried out on a national and European scale. The conference organized by Federchimica-Assogasliquidi took a close look at the state of the art in the supply chain and its future prospects with a view to the energy transition

The development of technical regulations to support the growth of LNG and related undertakings by of companies were the main aspects of the conference organized by Federchimica-Assogasliquidi – The development of LNG in Italy: a successful commitment by the industrial value chain and institutions – on the second day of the 16th Oil&nonOil event at Veronafiere. As highlighted by Federchimica-Assogasliquidi, Italy is the leader in Europe in the LNG supply chain with 103 LNG fuel distribution points, about one third of the EU total. Companies started from scratch and in less than ten years – thanks not the least to regulatory work on a national and European scale – managed to build an efficient and purposeful system for the entire country. Important input in this context also came from the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the National Fire Brigade through specific reports that once again demonstrated how the institutional and regulatory activities implemented even in the very recent past have made it possible to accompany the development of the sector with modern safety regulations. “Today, LNG is a consolidated reality that can help the European Union achieve its ambitious decarbonisation objectives indicated in the Fit for 55 package”, as Federchimica-Assogasliquidi made clear.

The conference paid detailed attention to the role of institutions as regards safety and the Italian and international regulatory framework. In his report, the Central Director for Prevention and Technical Safety of the National Fire Brigade, Stefano Marsella, provided an overview of the Brigade’s commitment to regulatory and technical structures supporting the development of alternative energy sources, namely LNG, CNG, LPG and hydrogen. Marsella emphasised the “ability to address the safety issues posed by the ecological transition”. In particular, “a work group is analysing the definition of guidelines for training personnel assigned to LNG operations”.
Deputy Director, Michele Mazzaro, on the other hand, focused on the latest developments in fire prevention technical standards for service stations and applications in storage capacities of less than 50 tonnes. These rules “aim to update the current regulatory framework in line with the most recent international provisions”. Mazzaro proposed “a Code to collate all fire prevention provisions concerning various types of fuel”.

On her part, Paola Barzaghi, of the General-Directorate for infrastructure and energy system safety at the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, analyzed “the state of the art of the authorization process for Small Scale LNG depots”: two plants were built in Santa Giusta (province of Oristano) and Ravenna, while the Edison project in the south channel of the port of Oristano and the Venice LNG project in Porto Marghera have been authorized but not yet built. The Edison for Brindisi and the Oristano Petroleum Project are currently being developed.

Speaking at the conference, the Regional Director of the Fire Brigade in Apulia, Gianpietro Boscaino, illustrated on the other hand the technical guide for identifying safety measures for refuelling LNG ships in port. This guide “allows standardized bunkering configurations to follow a defined approach. For other configurations, the identification of the Safety Zone can be carried out through quantitative risk assessments”. Boscaino suggested it would be appropriate “to set up an observatory concerning the application of the contents of this guide in order to implement technical regulations as soon as possible”.

The Provincial Commander of the Catanzaro Fire Brigade, Giuseppe Bennardo, on the other hand, discussed National Fire Brigade personnel training and management of emergencies. The Fire Brigade has developed “specific activities to manage emergencies involving LNG, with specific reference to the various foreseeable accident scenarios” and at the same time as “training programmes and new equipment to ensure safety in such scenarios”.

The first report by the panel of companies was given by the Head of Contarina’s operational division, Alessandro Sandel, who outlined a circular economy project to produce biomethane. Contarina has planned conversion to gas of 60% of its vehicles dedicated to waste collection operations over the next six years, out of a total fleet of around 600 vehicles, as well as the construction of LNG and CNC storage and supply plant,” Sandel explained. LC3 Trasporti is also focusing on biomethane, as explained by its Director General, Mario Ambrogi, although “progress is slow because there is a shortage of products”. Ambrogi called for cooperation with institutions to help develop the project.

Fabrizio Buffa, Iveco Alternative Propulsion Manager, identified sustainable solutions towards zero-emission transport. The goal is “to substantiate decarbonisation opportunities thanks to biomethane”, which is “the only fuel that can take us towards CO2-free transport in the overall cycle”, as well as the possibility of independent zero km supply and production. “85% of the fleet in circulation by 2025 could well be 100% fuelled by biomethane,” Buffa pointed out, adding that Iveco has committed to becoming “net zero carbon” by 2040.

Emanuele Gesù, Head of Small Scale LNG with Snam, focused on developing the company’s LNG and bioGNL infrastructure network for sea and land transport. He listed fundamental aspects of the strategic plan on a national scale as being “the availability of LNG in the national decarbonization and infrastructural development strategy, the concept of the South and the concept of immediacy and availability of infrastructures”.

Massimo Prastaro, Head of Retail Innovation and Alternative Fuels within Eni’s Energy Evolution general directorate, described the company’s LNG network, which operates 15 points of sale in Central-Northern Italy. The aim is to “achieve 60 stations over the next 2-3 years”. Prastaro indicated items of concern as “the pressure on gas prices, European legislation that penalizes LNG compared to electricity and hydrogen, and the limited availability of bioGNL”.

The Managing Director of Vulcangas, Costantino Amadei, explained that over the last eight years the company has invested “major resources to create know-how in the LNG supply chain”. More than 1000 tonnes of bioGNL – available through 12 service stations – have been sold since November 2020. Amadei communicated the company’s intention to “develop the LNG supply chain in South-East Europe and the Balkan area”.

The LNG technology marketing manager at Sol, Simone Carzaniga, focused on the LNG supply across the entire supply chain and developments in two sectors: in the automotive sector as a fuel and in the industrial sector to replace more polluting fuels. Sol is more than capable of building biomethane liquefaction plant. The first bioGNL production plant will come into operation in the first quarter of 2022,” he added.

The marketing and sales manager at Blu Way, Sara Pierro, spoke about the “Biomethane project”, which aims to “supply its stations with 100% biomethane. Today, we have already managed to ensure a percentage share of biomethane”, she concluded.