Rome imposed state supervision on a Lukoil-owned processing plant ahead of an EU embargo, according to AFP news agency
The Italian government has placed a refinery in Sicily owned by Russia’s largest private oil company Lukoil under state supervision, days before an EU embargo on imports of Russian crude oil, AFP reported on Thursday, citing government sources.
The ISAB plant near Syracuse is one of the largest in Europe and refines a fifth of Italian crude. The plant has relied solely on Russian oil from the Urals and is now at risk of halting production and being closed once the ban takes effect on December 5.
The Italian government is working on a “temporary solution” to keep the refinery operational in order to save jobs and secure energy supplies, and does not rule out nationalization, reports La Republica, citing the president of the Sicily region, Renato Schifani.
With the management taken over by the state, the plant will be able to continue production by buying oil from other suppliers, with the state credit agency SACE providing guarantees to creditor banks, the newspaper adds.
According to the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, the “provisional administration” of the ISAB refinery will last up to one year, with the possibility of extending for another 12 months “in the event of serious and imminent danger” security of energy supplies.
“The emergency response aims to protect both a strategic national energy center and the employment levels so important for Sicily and the whole country”, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a brief statement.
Although Lukoil is not under EU sanctions, Western banks are unwilling to do business with the Russian company for fear of future sanctions in the United States, where the company is under sanctions since 2014.
By taking over the management of a Russian company, Italy is following Germany’s example. In September, Berlin took control of the assets of Russian oil giant Rosneft, which operated several refineries in the country.
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