Advocate General Hogan: a Member State is not obliged to limit the extent of the areas in which one specific operator is entitled to carry out prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons, such as petroleum and natural gas

(Source: Court of Justice of the EU)

However, Member States must ensure non-discriminatory access to such activities for all
operators, public or private, regardless of their nationality, and may impose conditions and
requirements on the exercise of such activities in order to protect the environment

As of 2013, Global Petroleum, an Australian company operating in the offshore hydrocarbons
sector, submitted four separate applications to the Italian authorities for four hydrocarbon
exploration permits in adjacent areas located in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of the Puglia
region. Each one of these applications concerns an area of just under 750 km2. In fact, the Italian legislation provides that the area covered by a permit cannot exceed 750 km2.
In 2016 and 2017, the Italian authorities found that the four exploration projects submitted by
Global Petroleum were environmentally compatible, even taking into consideration their cumulative

Full Press Release – 114/2021 : 24 June 2021 – Opinion of the Advocate General in the case C-110/20

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