The Italian government has recognised as strategic the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal that regional utility Iren and Germany's E.ON plan to build off the north-west coast of Italy, two sources close to the matter said on Monday.
Recognition of the OLT Offshore LNG Toscana plant as strategic guarantees the developers a regulated return regardless of the actual utilisation rate of the facility.
"The decree was signed on Sept. 3," one of the sources said.
E.ON and Iren are planning to build a floating LNG unit 12 miles off the Tuscan coast by converting an LNG carrier.
Some observers have expressed concern about the feasibility of the project in the face of rising costs, uncertainty over gas sourcing for the plant and flagging gas consumption in Italy.
Italy imports around 90 percent of its gas needs, much of which comes from Russia. The government is keen to develop LNG terminals to help diversify supply.