(ANSA) - Rome, September 6 - A current ban on offshore drilling could be soon rethought by the Italian government, sources said Thursday. A new national energy strategy that reconsiders the 2010 ban on offshore oil and gas drilling is in the works. As a result, companies may be permitted to start drilling operations within a 12-mile limit off Italy's coast in protected areas, and within five miles of other coastal areas. The Italian government has been under pressure to permit more energy projects, which could provide a much-needed source of tax revenues as well as new energy sources. However, offshore drilling and exploration remains controversial in Italy. On Thursday, the mayors of such coastal communities as Molise, Abruzzo and Puglia, the provinces of Pescara, Chieti, Foggia and Campobasso began organizing a series of initiatives to counter drilling in the Adriatic. Local officials and politicians recently denounced Italy's environment minister for approving off-shore petrol exploration near the Tremiti islands' marine reserve in the southern Italian region of Puglia. "This is the umpteenth proof of worrying inattention by the (state) toward the territory, stripped of any value other than those permeated by squalid commodification," the mayor of the Tremiti islands, Antonio Fentini, said in a written statement in which he vowed to fight the decision. Fentini said that Italian environment minister Corrado Clini gave his approval in the last few days to a prospecting proposal by the Irish company Petrolceltic.
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di Sebastiano Caspanello