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Italy's refineries need oil, Rome's imports of Russian oil quadrupled

Max Civili
Press TV, Rome

The petrochemical complex of Augusta-Priolo is a vast industrialized coastal area in eastern Sicily which includes one of Europe's largest oil refineries: the ISAB plant.

This refinery processes about 14% of Italy's crude (about 10.6 million tons a year) and exports in dozens of countries around the world.

Owned by the Moscow-based company Lukoil, the ISAB refinery has been forced to rethink its supply strategy as the EU is aiming to get rid of its dependence on Russian energy following the conflict in Ukraine.

Since lenders and oil companies have stopped providing financing and crude to Lukoil after Brussels imposed sanctions on the Kremlin, the ISAB refinery is only left to rely on supplies from Russia.

Moscow has exported about 450,000 barrels per day of crude to Italy in May, more than four times as much as it did before the start of the conflict in Ukraine and the most since 2013. Rome may soon become the EU's largest Russian crude importer. This despite Brussels urging all members of the bloc to cut ties to Russian energy.

Some unions and think tanks have warned that a total Russian oil embargo would have the immediate effect of shutting down not only the ISAB refinery, but also other large petrochemical plants and many smaller companies in the area. This would result in the loss of thousands of jobs and enormous damage to the national and local economy.

Members of the bloc have yet to reach an agreement on an embargo on Russian oil, this way the Russian energy industry has largely avoided direct bans.

Energy analysts have noted that Russian crude exports have also increased to the port of Trieste, near Italy's north eastern border with Slovenia, where the oil is delivered through the Transalpine pipeline to two other Russian-owned refineries in Germany.

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