Italy places refinery run by Lukoil under state supervision: source

Italy has placed a refinery of Russian oil giant Lukoil under temporary state supervision to avoid its closure and guarantee energy supplies, a government source told AFP on Thursday.

The ISAB refinery is one of the largest in Europe and was at risk of having to cease production due to the European Union embargo on the import of Russian crude oil by sea, which comes into force on December 5 .

The “provisional administration” of the Sicily-based refinery will last for a maximum of 12 months, the source said following a cabinet intervention on the matter.

“The emergency response aims to protect both a strategic national energy center and the employment levels so important for Sicily and the whole country,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a brief statement.

By putting the refinery under guardianship, Rome is following the example of Berlin, which in September took control of the German activities of the Russian oil group Rosneft, which operates many refineries there.

Fearing sanctions, European banks stopped financing ISAB’s operations and providing it with the necessary guarantees to import oil from other countries.

The ISAB refinery has an annual refining capacity of 10 million tons of crude oil and provides about 20% of the country’s needs.

“This is a temporary solution” to “avoid the shutdown of machinery and activity and the resulting loss of jobs”, said Sicilian regional president Renato Schifani during a council of ministers.

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