The man of dreams

(To Gino Lanzara)

The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana was soaring towards the sky celebrating heroes, poets, saints and navigators, but without glorifying a peculiarly national aspect: visionary genius; there was no face to associate with, that of Enrico Mattei.

An angular character, so much has been said and written about him; he was a man, so far from both façade hagiographies and posthumous forms of damnatio memoriae. The character concretely visionary it did not make him the ideal candidate for the liquidation of Agip, a company born of a defeated regime; like to think that, among the stars of the firmament, the one on the turreted crown of the girl in tricolor has veiled the considerations on the man favoring those on the visionary just returned from the partisan struggle, on the man in love with that Italy that did not tolerate to see in the dust of a disastrous defeat, a man whom De Gaulle greeted with a "Comment ça va, votre majesté? ".

Disregarding the mandate received, he took Agip by the hand and transformed it into the backbone of ENI, the Italian oil multinational leader of the economic miracle, as well as a center of political influence supported by the ownership of newspapers and the support of political parties in the 1952. considered as taxi from which to descend once the run is over.

Solo a man: if he had enjoyed the divine favor he would have succeeded in avoiding an atrocious end, on which a sentence of the 2012, connected to the inquiry into the disappearance of the journalist Mauro de Mauro who was investigating you, affixed the seal of the attack, failing however to identify those responsible.

If it is true that the divine it did not belong to him, but it is equally true that a tormented one secular glorification it cannot be denied: Montanelli was not tender, after all Mattei himself, while perceiving the contours of the reality he was shaping, never gave up his dream, preferring to sink his hands into the slime of realism without discounts for a defeated country, to then leave a legacy creature from which foreign policy still today would still have to learn.

Il Commendatore he made methane gas pipelines; he had a concrete vision of the Italian atom with the Latina nuclear power plant, which could have been the first in Europe and the third in the world and which instead dissolved in the sun of the nullifying political dialectic and of the nationalization of ENEL; broke the Anglo-Saxon oil oligopoly of the seven sisters1, torn apart from the beginning Mattei for which the owners of the resources had to receive good part of the profits deriving from the exploitation of the deposits, safeguarding the State rights, also those Italians; he paid dearly for the idea of ​​European oil pipelines, which they would determine hub and restricted areas, but for which serious operational errors were committed in the absence of risk capital; negotiated concessions in MO; as a partisan White and not accustomed to the subtle, he had his best relations with the red who, with Luigi Longo, allowed him to enter into trade agreements with the Soviet Union.

Mattei, a communicator who did not follow political directives but aroused them, overcame both the resistance of the left and of the pro-US DC, which forced Fanfani to coin the term of neo-Atlanticism to indicate an autonomous political route; he believed in the ability to raise his head, comparing Italy to a kitten that he could no longer be chased away and killed by bigger and more hungry dogs: Mattei believed in the Italians, and the Italians believed in him, in his charisma.

Da self made man he never forgot what his father had taught him: " is ugly to be poor, because you cannot study and without a qualification you cannot go on", Precept of which he treasured when he called to himself characters involved in the previous regime but still able to give the indispensable continuity, something which he also understood the best with his amnesty, but which was incomprehensible to the unwary liberators Iraq. Mattei's dream will not have had theappeal yankee than that of ML King, but for the Italians it was the fascinating realization of the impossible.

The ingenuity is to see possibilities where others do not see them (E. Mattei)

Managing the legacy left by Mattei was complex; Italy has always needed a direct supply of energy, and ENI has had the need to be able to approach the State in a synergy that excludes misunderstandings.

Today as yesterday, ENI needs a structure diplomatic capillary connected to an efficient information policy aspect that, in terms of intelligence, has always been peculiar to the major companies, together with a careful selection of the partner countries that have always perceived ENI as different from other entrepreneurship, warned colonialists and without that Italian idea of capitalism subject to the principle of substantial and equal equity.

We like to think that, even today, ENI preserves Mattei's spark. The interests of ENI, safeguarded in the 1972 by Andreotti with his Mediterranean policy, have found contiguity with the principle of Enlarged Mediterranean, an geographically but not a single cultural political system2, further expanded with the pervasive Chinese presence, which led to tracing routes cindoterranee extended to the Indus Pacifico, an area as greedy for oil; a region strategically close to "Great Middle East"And divided on two theaters founded on the concept of Mediterranean expansion towards the East with the Black Sea, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the South-East with the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf. These are spaces in evolution, limited by national interests in interdependent areas, where the control of maritime routes could guarantee a multipolar balance according to a concept fluid of power.

ENI follows a prudent negotiating strategy that takes into account the territorial contingencies, according to a consolidated practice dating back to the same Mattei who capitalized the contacts cultivated by La Pira during his Mediterranean talks. Egypt, Iran, Morocco, independent Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, Libya, companies in Somalia, plants in Jordan and Argentina, supply of products in Ethiopia, Sudan, Bolivia, missions in India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Congo, Nigeria, the distribution of gas, have formed the foundations of an energy policy and strategic depth that considers the global variables exalting the organizational model structured in MO, North Africa, East and West Africa, Latin America, Asia, China, Russia, Eastern Europe, Europe and UK.

ENI is the interpreter of the principle that energy, having a fundamental geopolitical role in the international legal systems of all times, is a participant in the comparisons linked to the global energy transition, a risk for countries with a non-diversified economic structure dependent on oil revenue, and at the same time the diffusion of renewable energies, animators of a cross-border trade in electricity, a source of vulnerability in terms of control over the countries supplied; not least gas, a resource that is as functional as possible political fluctuations, and whose philosophy of employment has led to hypothesize diversification of supplies with a policy of decarbonisation, according to choices that, contemplating the collaboration with the Russian Oil Authority in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, reward Italian politics ofconstructive ambiguity subsequent to the Ukrainian and Donbass events, and give preference to directions aimed at strengthening the extraction of natural gas according to a long-term trend related to the mood of the market.

It is likely that the global energy transition will lead to a different one geoenergy, with strong instability in fossil fuel exporting countries.

ENI, present in 67 countries of the world, operates in a Mediterranean that, in a globalized key, is characterized by instability and dynamism involving political, commercial and strategic assets, and where energy resources, between the Persian Gulf, Central Asia and the Caspian Sea, are worth the 70% of world reserves and for 35% affect gas production, with increasing transport and storage difficulties given the reduced number of regasification plants.

ENI focuses on MO with a multi-billion strategic plan, the result of geographical diversification; a bet apt in light of the agreements signed in the Arabian peninsula, especially in the UAE, a country with zero risks, low operating costs and interested in circular economy projects, with around 117 thousand square kilometers of new concessions, and with the additional possibilities offered by Qatar for the expansion of liquefied natural gas production, with investments from 2,5 billions of dollars upstream from here to 2022, plus other 4,7 billions of dollars to be allocated to the entire MO, useful for the production of 400 thousand barrels per day in 2024, corresponding to one billion in addition to cash flows; all driver that, with Egypt and Norway, would be enhanced by the acquisition of ExxonMobil plants, and by the availability of the Ruwais complex3, the fourth world refinery.

If the understanding of the Italian geopolitical design in MO is complex, it is much easier to establish the ENI position that from there, more than from Central Asia, draws most of the resources, and actually pursues a menage political parallel. Respect for producers' interests has remained in Mattei's Middle Eastern and Mediterranean vocation, so much so that Eni, first among the world companies, has managed to optimize its results in areas from which others draw limited profits. The maintenance of this position presupposes a mutual exchange with politics, just as it has been done with the executives so far succeeded.

If oil transactions seem static, given the consistency of reserves due to new technologies4, the natural gas market plays a significant strategic role, demonstrating ENI's awareness of the trend towards gas-fired growth, given both the strong availability in the Egyptian-Cypriot East Med, and the national geographical location, which imposes sustainable routes, the need to to compensate for the lack of development of nuclear power, and to consider possible local political developments, as in Algeria.

Systems and countries

A former Premier has defined ENI "A geopolitical actor par excellence, the only one we have of this magnitude"; one wonders if he was aware that his words, as well as highlighting a truism, resounded as an admission of institutional weakness but still useful to understand the reason for a policy different from the governmental one, not always ready to support rights extraction and exploitation first and on the infrastructural network to channel resources, together with significant difficulties in unilateral diplomatic action in the areas floods of the power vacuum created by the US withdrawal, unable to impose the country as such hub southern energy and with considerable difficulties in maintaining a profitable soft power.

The expanded boundaries of our interests, which reach the Gulf of Guinea to the west and east beyond Hormuz, would presuppose a synergistic action between an Executive ready to secure diplomatic relations and maritime routes, and the entrepreneurial executive arm. The doubts, however, are beginning to arise already from Libya, an area that is strategic for us, where the advance of Haftar must be considered, ready to impact the ENI oil and gas fields, and where we struggle to propose ourselves as protagonists in the face of more aggressive geopolitical actors such as the Turkey which, after having established legally non-existent pacts with Serraj regarding the extension of the mutual EEZs, is engaged in asymmetrical naval confrontation aimed at cutting us off from the East Med.

The question naturally arises as to whether we remain in Libya by political virtue, or if we owe our permanence to ENI, at the moment, the most African of the world's largest 7 oil companies as an investor for over 20 billion dollars, which can not fail attenzionare a Chinese activism supported at home by the BIS government agreement.

The fault points are many: Cyprus, the dispute between Israel and Lebanon due to the definition of the borders affecting gas fields, the accusations of corruption in Nigeria, a reduced capacity to compete in the theater Cindoterraneo because they lack a political vision, a recurrent difficulty in projecting national interests into areas of capital importance for our system; many critical points for a policy that captures only the geographical value of the Peninsula, but without associating with it the geo-economic component, running the risk of depleting human capital induced to seek better possibilities towards foreign operational realities.

Looking at how the past reflects on the present, it comes to believe that Mattei, considering the social aspect, would have focused once more on technical scientific knowledge without neglecting the geopolitical one; once again the necessary synergy between a public vision, unfortunately short-term and entrepreneurial, which, traveling at different speeds, is proposed with projections that are difficult to reach at the moment is missing.

1 It (later Exxon in the USA) and later merged with Mobil to become ExxonMobil; 2. Royal Dutch Shell, Anglo-Dutch; 3. British Petroleum (BP); 4. Mobil and later merged with Exxon to become ExxonMobil; 5. Texaco, later merged with Chevron to become ChevronTexaco; 6. Standard Oil of California (Socal), later transformed into Chevron, now ChevronTexaco; 7. Gulf Oil, mostly merged into Chevron.

2 Samuel Huntington

3 Abu Dhabi

4 Shale oil

Photo: ENI / web