Barges and LNG plants, off to contributions

Ministerial Decree 191 of 27 June 2022 initiates the disbursement of grants for newly built ships to carry out bunkering activities and for the construction of gas liquefaction plants and refueling points for LNG and Bio-LNG

di Arianna Perotti*

The National Plan for Complementary Investments aimed at integrating the interventions of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan with national resources pursuant to art. 2 ter lett. c) provided for the allocation of 220 million euros for the financing, up to a maximum of 50%, of interventions intended:
1) the construction of natural gas liquefaction plants on the national territory necessary for the decarbonisation of transport and in particular for the maritime sector;
2) the construction of refueling points for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and Bio-LNG in the port area with the related storage capacities; and

3) the purchase of the naval units necessary to support bunkering activities starting from the national regasification terminals.

The ministerial decree n. 191 of 27 June 2022 (the so-called 'Giovannini Decree') defined the procedure for submitting applications for admission to the grant, as well as the criteria and conditions for benefiting from the related disbursement, thus giving form and concrete start to the allocations foreseen last year year from the National Plan for Complementary Investments ("PNC").

In particular, the resources allocated by the PNC will be used to finance three different types of intervention: 90 million euros will be allocated to the construction of natural gas liquefaction plants, 40 million to the construction of LNG and Bio-LNG refueling points in the port area. , and 90 million for the purchase of newly built vessels of a type suitable for the transport of LNG and BIO LNG to carry out ship-to-ship bunkering activities.

For the construction of the liquefaction plants and the construction of the LNG and Bio-LNG refueling points in the port area, the works must be completed by 31 March 2026, while the purchase of newly built naval units must take place by 31 March 2025. However, the Management of the Ministry of Infrastructures and Sustainable Mobility ("MIMS") reserves the right to admit to the contribution also interventions that require a longer time in the presence of circumstances or technical conditions that must be promptly and duly motivated by the applicant.

The recipients of the contributions will therefore be the economic operators, producers and distributors of LNG and Bio-LNG and, as regards the ships to be used to carry out bunkering activities, the shipping companies referred to in Article 265 of the Navigation Code which undertake to guarantee the service of refueling LNG and / or Bio-LNG with the naval units purchased with the resources supplied.

Applications must be submitted, under penalty of exclusion, from 9:00 on 10 July 2022 until 13:00 on 10 September 2022 by certified e-mail. According to a press release from MIMS dated 27/06/2022, the ranking for the admission of projects to the contribution will be defined by 30 September 2022.

As regards the applications presented in relation to naval units for bunkering, the applicant must certify both the quality of the shipowning company pursuant to art. 265 of the navigation code is to declare its commitment for the five years following the definitive disbursement of the contribution to operate the naval unit by shipping companies having a permanent establishment in Italy. From the reading of the Giovannini Decree it therefore appears that the ultimate subject who will operate the naval unit may be different from the applicant. In addition, the applicant must also certify that the vessels for which the contribution is requested are of new construction and of a type suitable for the transport of LNG / BIO LNG for ship-to-ship bunkering activities certified by an authorized Body, or one of the naval classification bodies recognized by the Italian flag.

The applicant must then certify the presumed date of commencement of the construction work on the ship by providing, where applicable, a copy of the contract for the construction of the naval unit with the executing company or a preliminary contract bearing the promise of construction. The contract must in any case be signed by February 2023, otherwise the loan will be revoked.

The procedure for evaluating applications for admission will consist of an investigation phase and a decision-making process. The first of the two phases will be carried out by the Directorate General for the Supervision of the Port System Authorities of the MIMS and will be aimed at verifying not only the existence of the subjective and objective requirements of the applicant, but also the completeness of the documentation presented and the existence of the minimum requirements. identified in the decree for the implementation of the interventions subject to possible financing. The second phase, the decision-making one, will instead be carried out by a specific commission based on the quality of the intervention project; the prospects for the impact of the intervention on the production chain don the territorial scope of reference and the contribution to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

The disbursement of the loan will be subject to the establishment by the assignee of a surety for an amount equal to the amount of the contribution paid. The surety guarantee must be issued by a suitable bank or insurance institution and must guarantee in the event of any failure (total or partial) of the intervention object of the contribution as well as the possible adoption of disqualifying anti-mafia information and in the event of any false declarations made in the '' scope of the preliminary phase of the procedure for admission to the disbursement of funds.

The grant will be paid at different times: 20% as an advance payment at the start of the construction works, 60% in the progress of the works in a maximum of five installments and the last 20% within 120 days of the completion of the works.

The Giovannini Decree also provides for a series of checks by the MIMS Management which will have the right to verify the appropriateness of the cost items with respect to the national and community market of reference and to ask the assignee for specific contributions and suitable supporting documents.

The provision for the granting of contributions may be revoked or canceled for various reasons including the repeated lack of documents or serious negligence or any omissions in the implementation of the interventions subject to the contribution such as to compromise its conclusion within the foreseen time frame or make public purposes not prosecutable.

*Lawyer, Of Counsel, Dardani Studio Legale