Ravenna is the most important base for offshore activities in Italy
After the emperor Augustus based his fleet here, Ravenna was the Roman Empire’s principal Adriatic seaport. Ravenna’s role as a port and center of maritime activity has changed over the centuries.
Today, Ravenna it’s Italy’s largest base for the offshore oil and gas industry. AGIP (now ENI) began offshore hydrocarbon exploration from Ravenna in the 1950s, using a seismometer spread taken by the Western on its return from the Persian Gulf. AGIP’s first offshore platform, Ravenna Mare 1, entered production in 1960. This was soon followed by others, marking the beginning of a new industry in a city which until then had lived off agriculture, tourism and some activity as a minor commercial port.
By the 1970s, AGIP was producing approximately 25 billion cubic metres of methane per year: one third of Italy’s requirements. It was during this period that various multinationals opened offices in Ravenna, while local companies diversified their activities at the service of AGIP and new companies were founded.
The first of these was Rana, a firm specializing in underwater work founded by two diving enthusiasts, Faustolo Rambelli and Franco Nanni. Mario Bambini converted his fishing fleet into service boats, gaining an important position in this field. Franco Fiore, the owner of a shipping agency, began specializing as the representative of foreign oil and gas exploration companies. These examples were followed by many new companies specializing in supplies and services for the oil and gas industry, such as Italmet, now a leading supplier of offshore mooring technology, and Ferrari, which produced components for industrial equipment and flange manufacturers.
By now, Ravenna was Italy’s offshore exploration capital. The next step was for three leading industrialists from the offshore sector, Franco Fiore, Franco Nanni and Giuliano Resca, to join forces with Pietro Baccarini, a lawyer and chairman of the chamber of commerce of Ravenna, to organize an exhibition dedicated to the offshore industry. To do so they formed an organizing committee whose members included representatives of the local chamber of commerce, the provincial and municipal authorities, and offshore operators. Thus, on 23 October 1992, the ROCA, Ravenna Offshore Contractors Association was founded as the body in charge of coordinating the exhibition. The exhibition OMC, the Offshore Mediterranean Conference, opened on 11 March 1993. Its figures were impressive right from the outset: 40 papers, 300 delegates, 55 stands representing 196 firms, and thousand of visitors. In 1994, a consortium comprising ROCA, CCIAA Ravenna and Assomineraria was formed as the organizer of subsequent OMC exhibitions, which have since been held every two years with growing success