Greenpeace Joins Suit to Block New FSRU at Italian Seaport

Port of Piombino
Piombino (Autorità di Sistema Portuale del Mar Tirreno Settentrionale)

Published Feb 6, 2023 2:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Federation have joined the city of Piombino in a suit to block the installation of an FSRU at the city's seaport. The project has already been approved by the regional government, but opponents contend that it could potentially be harmful to the marine environment and to local aquaculture interests. 

State-owned gas company Snam wants to bring in an FSRU to the western Italian port of Piombino as early as April, and it is moving ahead with preparations. The project has urgency for the Italian government because of the need to reduce reliance on Russian natural gas. According to Reuteres, Italy is looking to source over eight billion cubic meters of LNG from other suppliers, primarily in Africa, Qatar and the U.S., before the next winter. Italy's existing terminals do not have that much extra capacity, but the Piombino project alone could handle five billion cubic meters. 

Piombino's mayor, Francesco Ferrari, opposes the FSRU project and filed a court challenge to block it last year. The suit sought an injunction to halt work pending further study, citing safety and environmental concerns. 

"We are aware of the energy emergency and that new gas supply measures are in the national interest, but this cannot disregard safety guarantees for the community in Piombino," said Ferrari at the time. 

WWF and Greenpeace have joined the suit as supporting parties, calling for a more thorough review of the project's impact. 

"There was a lack of risk assessment for the environment (starting from the [environmental impact assessment]) and for people, above all of an entire phase of the life of the work . . . which is certainly worrying. Very little attention was also paid to the study of emissions and pollutants," said President of WWF Italy Luciano Di Tizio and President of Greenpeace Italy Ivan Novelli in a joint statement. 

Separately, Italian trade union USB has filed a criminal complaint with the Livorno prosecutor's office, accusing Snam of "environmental crimes" in connection with the FSRU project. The union has objected to purchasing American natural gas (LNG) at a price "four times that of Russia," and it has expressed displeasure at development projects in Piombino which it considers objectionable, like the FSRU and a new landfill at Ischia di Crociano.