As the hydrocarbon frenzy dominates the energy policy agendas of crisis stricken Mediterranean states, Italy aims to increase its oil output to 200,000 barrels a day, thus becoming the third producer in the EU, following Britain and Norway.
A plan with an inestimable toll on nature: the marine and coastal environment along the straits of Sicily is a highly biodiverse region that deserves additional conservation status, according to NGOs, such as WWF and Greenpeace. As reported by US journal Science (July 2011),
“[l]ast year, the United Nations Environment Programme identified 12 new zones in the Mediterranean worthy of protection for their biodiversity, including the Italian and Tunisian sides of the Strait of Sicily. The Mediterranean hosts more than 8% of the planet’s marine species; the waters around islands such as Pantelleria are sanctuaries that should become marine protected areas as soon as possible …”. WWF has identified the Mediterranean Sea as a global priority ecoregion.
In a June 18th statement, Greenpeace Italy accused energy giant Eni that it plans to drill in a fragile offshore area between Agrigento and Licata, without assessing the impacts of a possible major accident, which would destroy valuable ecosystems, as well as the local fisheries and tourism economies. WWF Italy launched a “No drill in Sicily channel” campaign.
In Greece, also suffering of hydrocarbon fever, the head of the seismic exploration survey along the Hellenic Trench (stretching from N. Crete to the S. Ionian), Prof. Sofia Stamataki, remarked that the expectations for a hydrocarbon bonanza that will save Greece from the crisis are an exaggerated scenario that lacks scientific basis.