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Rome greenlights key refinery sell-off – with limitations

The ISAB refinery, controlled by Russia’s Lukoil, will be sold to Cyprus’ Goi Energy. The Meloni government triggered its special powers to impose conditions over the petrol’s provenance, jobs, investments and the environment – and also dealt with Chinese 5G

The Priolo sell-off is a go. Cyprus-based Goi Energy will acquire the critical ISAB refinery, operating near the Sicilian town of Priolo, from Russia’s Lukoil. After careful consideration, Giorgia Meloni’s government elected to greenlight the deal – but imposed limitations using its so-called Golden Power (which protects strategically-relevant national assets”.

  • Rumours had been circulating about Goi’s possible connection with Russian entities, but the government found no evidence to support them – and the company categorically denied them.
  • The deal, which Il Sole 24 Ore estimates will be worth €1.2 billion, should be closed “in the coming weeks.”

Mapping ISAB’s importance. The operation refines 10.6 million tons of crude oil per year and covers almost a quarter of Italy’s petrol needs. It also employs 1,000 workers directly, and the government estimates 10,000 workers are indirectly connected to the refinery.

  • Hence the executive’s extra care in handling this dossier to ensure the operation, which relied on Russian crude, would not be shuttered following the EU’s petrol ban on Russian products, which entered into force in December.

Meloni’s limitations. The government’s Golden Power limitations encompass Goi’s oil supplies from the trader Trafigura, employment levels, investments in the plant, and environmental commitments regarding discharge limits.

  • The exact details are still unknown, but there’s talk of a 10-year ban on employing crude of Russian origin, even if it’s reworked or “laundered” at later stages and with the help of restricted nations, such as Russia itself.

Chinese 5G too. Another ministerial decree, according to Il Sole, dealt out further prescriptions and recommendations in the telecommunications sector, placing constraints on the annual purchase plans for 5G technologies. These measures were addressed to telecom tower operators Cellnex Italia and Inwit as well as mobile operators Iliad Italia and Fastweb.

  • The previous government, headed by Mario Draghi, had imposed similar limitations to the annual plans of Tim and Vodafone, the nation’s two biggest mobile operators, to favour the diversification of suppliers and thus limit the amount of Chinese equipment installed in Italy’s infrastructure.

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