July 20, 2011 / 7:24 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Italy top court OKs Enel Sicily LNG project

* Top court overturns region court ruling blocking project    * Italy can add 1-2 LNG plants to up mkt to 40 bcm-minister    * Preliminary work to start after summer - Enel spokeswoman  (Adds minister comments, details)     By Alberto Sisto     ROME, July 20 (Reuters) - Italy’s top administrative court has cleared the way for Enel’s 850 million euro ($1.2 billion) project to build a liquefied natural gas import terminal in Sicily, part of Italian efforts to diversify energy supplies.     The Council of State overturned a ruling by a Lazio regional court that blocked No.1 Italian utility Enel’s (ENEI.MI) plan to build an 8 billion cubic metre LNG terminal in Porto Empedocle, the top court’s ruling and Enel said.     “The terminal ... is fundamental for supply diversification of our country (and) strategic for Enel’s vertical integration in the natural gas (supply) chain,” Enel Chief Executive Fulvio Conti said in a statement on Wednesday.     Italy, heavily dependent on energy imports, has two operating LNG terminals with a total capacity of about 12 bcm, and a series of projects are at various stages of lengthy authorisation processes.     Junior Industry Minister Stefano Saglia said separately on Wednesday the country needed one or two more LNG terminals on top of the two existing plants and three other terminals, including that of Enel, which have key permits.     “There is room for one or two terminals on top of those already operating and those authorised to reach (a total capacity of) 40 bcm,” Saglia told a news conference.     Earlier this month, Italy’s Industry Ministry and regional authorities approved a project by unlisted Italian company Api Nova Energia to build a 4 bcm offshore terminal on the Adriatic coast. [ID:nLDE76B15W].     Germany’s E.ON (EONGn.DE) and Italian regional utility Iren (IREE.MI) lead a project to construct a 3.75 bcm offshore terminal in Tuscany.     Preliminary work on the Porto Empedocle terminal will start after the summer holidays, an Enel spokeswoman said. Construction is expected to last 54 months.     Enel started its permitting marathon for the Sicilian terminal in 2004.     The industry and environment ministries approved the project by decree in 2009, but local authorities opposing the terminal — backed by consumer and environmental groups — turned to the Lazio court, which blocked it in December.     Enel appealed the decision to the Council of State. The same court in May blocked Enel’s 2.5 billion euro project to convert a major oil-fired power station to coal.  (Writing by Deepa Babington and Svetlana Kovalyova, editing by Jane Baird and Dale Hudson)

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