Italian energy giant Eni has signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding with Fincantieri establishing a natural gas research and development partnership.
The move is part of Eni's strategy to tackle climate change, promote sustainable development and support the use of gas for transport.
The agreement covers a wide range of potential partnerships including the study of initiatives related to the natural gas transport chain, LNG and the exploitation of gas resources. The partnership aims to develop projects regarding floating platforms for offshore production and the evaluation of energy projects with a low environmental impact.
Earlier this month, Eni signed an agreement with Snam for the development of methane gas stations in Italy. The partnership aims at developing new compressed natural gas (CNG) and LNG plants within Eni’s national network of stations, favoring the supply of low-emission alternative fuels such as natural gas.
With well-established and globally cutting edge technology, Italy is the leading European market for natural gas consumption for vehicles, with over one billion cubic meters consumed in 2015 and about one million vehicles currently in circulation.
The framework agreement and the subsequent contracts for the implementation of the initiative will provide a further boost to the natural gas industry from the transport sector and is able to leverage Europe’s largest, most accessible gas pipeline network, stretching more than 32,000 kilometers.
On May 11, Eni’s Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi, highlighted that over the last three years, the company has invested €15 billion ($16.7 billion), with a further €21 billion ($23.4 billion) planned for the next four years, in a drive to transform all of its business sectors, from upstream to refining and chemicals, from power generation to remediation.
The goal is to give existing assets new, low carbon life, increasing energy efficiency and investing in technologies and skills without cutting employment, a strategy which runs contrary to what has previously happened in the sector, where many projects have been stopped and workforces reduced.
The strategy has four pillars: the exploration and production of hydrocarbons, the transformation of the refining and chemicals sectors; an energy transition based on gas and the development of renewable sources; and people, innovation and skills.
Descalzi explained how the exploration and production of hydrocarbons will continue to be Eni’s growth engine and act as a bridge to the energy landscape of the future. Eni will maintain its production levels in Italy by continuing to focus significantly on gas, what he says is the cleanest of the fossil fuels and the perfect partner in the transition to a low-carbon energy mix. At the same time, Descalzi added, Eni is studying how to use decommissioned platforms to produce energy from the wind and sea, as well as creating new research laboratories.
Eni was the first company in the world to convert a traditional refinery, in Venice, into a biorefinery. Eni has a goal of producing one million tons of biodiesel by 2020, thanks to the start-up of the Gela refinery, accounting for the entire Italian biofuel demand. Eni will also use innovative technology to produce energy and fuel from waste, animal fats and frying oils.
In terms of renewable energy projects, Eni’s progress in 2016 involved launching renewable energy projects at its plants in Italy, with the goal of improving the company’s energy efficiency and producing 220MW of power by 2020.
Descalzi underlined how Eni’s most valuable assets are its people, its skills and its ability to innovate. Between 2009 and 2016, Eni invested in research activities that led to more than 300 proprietary technologies and more than 6,000 patents being developed.