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Italy goes to the polls over oil and gas drilling

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Italy goes to the polls over oil and gas drilling
  • Referendum on drilling rights
  • Proposed by organisations in Renzi’s own party
  • “This is unnecessary” – Renzi

What is happening?

Italians are voting in a referendum on offshore oil and gas drilling rights.

They are being asked whether licenses within 20 kilometres of the coast should be renewed.

Whose idea is it?

The ballot was proposed by several regional assemblies due to environmental and tourism concerns.

Most of them are run by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s own centre-left Democratic Party.

What does Renzi have to say about it?

He says the referendum is unnecessary and may impact on jobs and the economy.

It would be a blow to Renzi if substantial numbers did turn out, suggesting voters were ready to snub him just weeks before major local elections.

“This is not a political referendum, but concerns 11,000 workers, their future and Italy’s energy supply chain,” Renzi told reporters.

Why does Italy need oil and gas platforms?

Italy imports around 90% of its energy needs.

It is trying to boost domestic energy production to reduce dependency on foreign suppliers like Russia’s Gazprom.

44 working fields in Italian waters will be shut down when their licence expires, if voters back an end to drilling.

What if not enough people turn out to vote?

More than 50% of the electorate must turn out for the vote to be valid.

Polls suggest a quorum will not be reached.