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Italy commissioner gives OK for new LNG terminal in Piombino

(Reuters) - A state-appointed commissioner in Italy on Tuesday gave his formal go-ahead to the set up of a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port of Piombino, on the western coast of the country.

Preparatory works by gas grid operator Snam (SRG.MI) for the infrastructure can start on Wednesday, Commissioner Eugenio Giani said during a press conference in Florence.

The floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), which is part of a broader plan designed by the former government of Mario Draghi to replace dwindling Russian gas supplies, needs to be operational by end-March.

The gas grid operator said it would study the conditions attached to the authorisation to allow for a timely start of the works and to have the 5 billion cubic metre capacity terminal up and running on schedule.

"Snam expresses satisfaction with the positive conclusion of the authorisation process for the FSRU Piombino Project, which will make a decisive contribution to the security and diversification of the country's energy supplies," the company said in a statement.

Neither Snam nor Giani unveiled the conditions under which the project has received the go-ahead in less than fourth months, a time lapse much shorter than what normally happens in Italy for such projects.

"It's reasonable to believe that the conditions put in place are manageable by Snam, also given what had been agreed with the government so far," Giani said, adding he expected gas to be delivered through the terminal in mid-April.

The authorisation is also linked to the request of state-funded benefits that will have to be approved by the new government headed by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni.

The region of Tuscany has asked for hundreds of millions of euros in investments in exchange for allowing the terminal in the Tuscan port, it said on Monday.

The mayor of Piombino said on Friday he would challenge the approval of the infrastructure in court.

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