The first Italian LNG regasification plant was built and started operation near La Spezia in the 70s and in the last two decades the interest on the asset has significantly increased, with several big energy players presenting initiatives for LNG regasification plants along the Italian coast.
Today's increasing need of diversification of energy sources and utilization of "clean fossil fuels" shifted the focus on small-scale plants for LNG. However, for a long time, the development of national regulation for such assets did not properly cover all of the plant's relevant aspects, making permitting path quite uncertain; only recently a few updates seems to have solved part of those issues. Notwithstanding what above, the permitting process is still something to be faced very carefully, because both the competent authorities and local communities can originate new showstoppers.
RINA has quite a history in providing Environmental & Permitting services for LNG plants and is now working with increasing involvement in the small-scale business, supporting clients throughout the entire authorization process and during the whole life of the project. Lessons taught from previous projects lead us to focus the attention on the following aspects:
site location, preferring brownfield underused areas to be converted for "cleaner" productive uses;
identification of territorial constraints (land planning, natural protected areas, cultural goods, etc.);
adequate baseline data collection, to assess the status of the environment prior the commencement of the work, and to identify potential sensitiveness;
in depth impact assessment, crossing the project actions vs the environmental sensitiveness;
identification of mitigation measures;
definition of monitoring plan for construction and operation phases.
Since the first tanker shipment of LNG took place in 1958 aboard the experimental vessel (the Methane Pioneer)1 the LNG global market has undergone an unprecedented expansion of production capacity. During the last 50 years, LNG started being imported from Pacific countries and later from the Atlantic Basin (Europe, North America), and the market developed in an exponential manner, averaging, in last decades, an annual growth of 7.5%2.