Lucania Quest of Oil&Gas: brief hints, singular results, emancipation attempts

During all the years I spent growing and trying to understand how the world turns, collecting delusions and joy, failure and successes, Lucania became something very different from which I expected it to be.

Lucania – or Basilicata – is the sole Italian Region which has got two place-names, because of its different foundations and historical events that contributed to its development  (from the Greek: Leukos-Whiteness, or  Lykos-Wolf; from Latin: Lucus-Sacred Wood, or Lux-Light;  while Basilicata from the Greek: Basilikos-Byzantine Governors, or Basileus-King). Lucania is the sole Italian Region that has got two sea ways  out, Tirrenean and Jonic one. Considering that it has also an orographic, and in general, geographic multifom landscape diversity, it could be defined as the most interesting territory Italy has  got among its  Regions. In fact, you can easily pass through hills and mountains; Dolomites and Calanchi; valleys, rivers and lakes; woods and plains; monuments and historic evidences of an ancient past conjungated with a modern quest to overcome the undying crisis Italian South lives since its unity  dramatically occurred in 1861.

But this is not sufficient to make Lucania safe from what’s happening at least over the past 20 years. Being seriously damaged by the big earthquake hit most part of  its  territory in 1980, Lucania received over the years  huge funds from Italy Governments, even though during 2000 they still are awaiting for money to reconstruct entire neibouroughs (italian mistery of the money-rains and the invisible umbrellas deviating them!!); then it became Target1 for EU, being included in the project called LEADER (Liaison entre actions de développement de l’économie rurale), as depressed and even underdeveloped area: by that moment, receiving every year and since 1994 hundred and hundred millions of Eurs, Lucania people should have targeted which was compulsory to those project, i.e. “recover the agricultural identity”. Furthermore, it should have been even easy, if we consider that the inhabitants density counts in Lucania only 50 inhab./sqkm over a total 585k inhabitants. From then, politicians through public managers applied for POR (Regional Operative Plans), GAL (Local Action Groups), trying to invent the most creative idea to set a project and getting money; unfortunately, most of those projects “invented” and “expressely created” weren’t basic for development; definitively, they should have applying for the simplest development plans: farms, agricultural products, tourism incoming, enviroment safe and care, social and public services improve, cultural growth and, in the end, economic “natural” return. But few or none of that has been done.

All of that was disregarded. I saw some both domestic and international companies open and close just like it was a saloon door: one day they took advantage of EU funds to settle an industry, and the day after they decided to abandon that plants, because they were interested only in catching money, not to settle long-lasting pieces of industry as investment, local improvement, general growth, and so on; or, worst, a big like FIAT that settled here the largest Italian and one of the main European factories in order to improve its production capacity and its world market importance (receiving huge funds from UE too), pushing new cars on a market that very soon  showed off its sales limits, besides of being more and more design impoverished – till up today, when they considered a surplus having Italian plants and opening their NewCos in Brazil, Poland, Serbia, and in the USA, where Mr Obama opened the public wallet and gave them part of the investments which FIAT might to return to Italians, beacuse of the many Trade Unions and all Republican Governments interventions made to support the biggest Italian civil factory.

One of the industries that seems to live any kind of decline is the one – if not the sole – that nowadays  in Lucania provides with investments and investors from all over the world, specifically France and the USA: it’s the Oil&Gas Ind., best known as the Drilling Industry.

By the times of ENI (founded by Enrico Mattei) during the sixties, through the agreement in 1996 signed by Mr Di Nardo Regional Governor and some Drilling Cos, till up nowadays, they literally covered a large amount of hectares in Lucania, concentrating their entrepreneurial efforts most of all to get the more and more licenses to drill a so precious land, rich of natural diversity and totally unprepared to receive such a devastating work over and under its soil. ENI, TOTAL, SHELL,  and others are showing their real face to Lucania: they promised to politicians a compensation for their activity; that  compensation should have been first of all towards environment, such as adding forest conservation, setting their industrial plants in a way that had the less effects possible on enviroment, towns and local economy; in the end, compensate all the employement lost by acquiring hectares of land to an agricultural vocated territory, i.e. by absorbing with maximum effort the certain falls on people and territory. All of that cannot be paid with 10% royalties, unuseful cents for whom is literally destroying Lucania.

In the last three months, there have been happening some singular events, and among them, I do need to underline one that is really otrageous: carps mysterious plague in the Pertusillo Dam. That Dam provides for drinkable water, or water used to irrigate fields  and drink livestock; that Dam is near one of the largest Drilling sectors set in Lucania; that Dam is scandalously polluted by hydrocarbon and other dangerous levels of chemical toxines; it is recording a phenomenon called eutrophication of the slimes composing its flora and that  is multiplicating all the toxines someone (?!) is spilling into it, with the cleaning filters not working as they should do.

In 2010 two men  – Mr Giuseppe Di Bello and Mr Maurizio Bolognetti -, respectively  provincial police liuetenant and active leader of Radicali Italiani, publicly denounced what they achieved during inspections and private analysis they ordered on their account. They expected the judges involved in the investigation to detect and arrest the guilty ones who committed those crimes. Today, reading some newspapers and in particular Basilicata24 ( and the most active blog fighting against Lucania enviromental pollution – OLA (;, I read about their prosecution for which they have to respond about “outcast of secrecy concerning a preliminary investigation” (Mr Di Bello already condemned beacuse he demanded for nolo contendere using a summary procedure) . My jaws fell down!!  Incredible: two people, acknowledged about something that could  be a serious risk for the population, spread out that news and Italian Judges what they do? Instead of persecuting the criminals, they are leaving them out – in fact the  episodes of pollution still keeps on happening – and are committing two innocents for trial!

This example I needed to highlight would significate the latent influence the most important regional industry is spreading over all the social stratums and the establishment, besides of being for sure a judicial error.

 Despite of their promises, it seems that the Drilling Ind. does not constitute the economic rush they declared to make Lucania achieve, when they enchanted local politicians with their polluted poetry: they took the bait or, in some cases, managed/plotted under the table with them to leave the Region into a complete desolation, desertification, youth emigration, enviromental frustration and destruction.

Furthermore, there have born several spontaneous associations in defense of territory and people seriouly injured by Drilling Ind. They try to inform  local people about misinformation or lack of info that local people bore by politicians, drilling companies and mass-media.

Being its macro and local governance completely subjugated to that companies literally infesting  its lands, now Lucania is wondering about its present and future tenses, trying to understand which would be the most correct verbs to use in order to act and re-act in behalf of existing and next generations. Lucania People have dramatically understood that the Drilling Ind. could not give them any advantage, either economic nor clerical ones. Lucania people understood over their skin that there is no economic return, if health, enviroment and genuine agriculture are at risk. Lucania People do have to face even problems and worries derivating by Fracking activities, being Lucania a high frequency seismic zone.

Lucania People are trying to emancipate themselves in order to free their territory by all those polluting industries, and giving back a new smile to the exclusive, sensual and enchanting, luxuriant and savage landscapes.

Will their attempts succeed? The above lines mean to be the start up for a  stronger participation of far people in the world to the Lucania Quest of Emancipation from Oil&Gas Industry!


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