Italy taps oil to fix to economic woes, seeks to clear local opposition

|By:, SA News Editor

The Italian government - hungry for revenue and desperate to jump start the impoverished economy of its Basilicata region, called the Texas of Italy for its abundant oil reserves - is trying to clear the way for the country's own Eni (E) and other major oil companies to step up drilling.

The government has made changes to allow more oil royalties to go to local coffers, simplified application procedures and opened offshore areas to exploration, but resistance from environmentalists and regional lawmakers remains fierce.

"This is the right time" for oil exploration in Italy, says the head of Italian operations for Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B), which seeks to triple its investment and spend "many hundreds of millions of euros" in the country.