Italy’s exploration & production ban to impact Rockhopper’s Ombrina Mare project?

Italy has reintroduced restrictions on offshore oil and gas activity within 12 nautical miles off its coast. Rockhopper, an oil and gas exploration and production company, fears this will have an impact on its Ombrina Mare project, offshore Italy.

The Ombrina Mare is an appraisal/development project located off the Abruzzo, a region in Italy, in the shallow waters of the Central Adriatic.

According to Rockhopper, the Italian Parliament has approved the 2016 Budget Law which reintroduces restrictions on offshore oil and gas activity including the general ban on exploration and production activity within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Italy. This restriction was originally introduced in 2010 and repealed in 2012. The Budget Law came into force on January 1, 2016.

Certain exceptions apply for existing production concessions and Rockhopper says that none of its other interests in Italy, including the Guendalina gas field, are expected to be impacted by this new legislation.

At the same time, Rockhopper has been granted a 12 month extension to the suspension of the Ombrina Mare exploration permit to December 31, 2016.

Rockhopper-operated Ombrina Mare is located within the 12 mile limit and the company is conducting an in depth review of this new legislation, how the exploration permit is affected and its impact on the Ombrina Mare project.

Rockhopper plans to drill and test an appraisal well to extend existing resource estimates and to optimize plans for the development of the asset prior to project sanction.