Industrial hub of Syracuse, 2023 ends in uncertainty

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A total turnover of 22.334 billion and an added value of 3.532 billion. These are the salient data (for 2022) of the industrial area of ​​Syracuse contained in the Sustainability Report which was presented today (7 December). It is the third edition of a report that reviews the fundamental themes in a strategic area (in the triangle of the municipalities of Priolo-Melilli-Augusta) where there are large companies in the energy sector such as Lukoil with its refineries, but also the refinery of the Algerian Sonatrach: in total here there is a refining capacity of 27,500,000 tonnes equal to 31.7% of the national total. And then there are petrochemical plants such as Versalis which have a capacity to process 1,400,000 tonnes of petroleum products per year. «A report – says the president of Confindustria Siracusa Gian Piero Reale – which is a very precise choice to respond to the demand for information that comes to us from the territory. It has now entered the practice of our association and the companies that are part of it, in implementation of the Constitution which requires the business-citizen relationship to be based on respect, social security, health and the environment”.

Big numbers in 2022, decline in 2023

In the area of ​​economic sustainability, the report certifies the abundant recovery of the losses of the pandemic years, with a growth of more than 50% in turnover (and obviously not only) compared to 2021 and +80% compared to 2019 while the global added value gross went from 1.171 billion in 2021 to 3.532 billion in 2022. In this context, the disbursement to direct employees reached almost 240 million and the total contribution to the public administration (local and national taxes and duties) once again exceeded one billion of Euro. But 2023 is already announcing itself as a year in which things went differently: «Already the first months of 2023 – we read in the report – will cause the majority of companies to record net losses. Looking in particular at manufacturing and chemicals, specifically, we note a contraction in volumes at a global level, with worrying levels of reduction in production volume, the likes of which have not been seen for some time.” Uncertainty therefore weighs heavily as companies look ahead: «The challenge to be faced is to resume the transformation projects required by the energy transition, in a highly volatile environment, but also being able to have a solid base of assets and
specialized workforce that has demonstrated resilience in going through this complicated period.”

Towards the transition

All with the awareness that the transition requires resources and a more rational and certain regulatory framework: «Access to public funds, Italian and/or European, will be essential, as will the development of legislation for a ‘reasonable’ transition and not in “sudden leaps” – we read in the report -. By way of example, even today the questionable position of our Government is a cause for concern, which limited the funds necessary for the development of hydrogen and divided them among many small operators, not considering that the transition of large hard-to- abate requires several billion euros to be completed without leaving anyone behind. And it is always a cause for concern that, at a European level, it is required that every hour of operation of an electrolyser is associated with an hour of renewable energy. Unfortunately, solar at night is obviously not available and large storage systems, electric or hydrogen, are beyond the future as infrastructure on a national scale.”

Confindustria: «Resources are needed to help the transition»

The president of Confindustria Siracusa reiterates this: «Access to Italian and European public funds and legislation for a reasonable transition that also includes hard to abate companies will be essential for the energy transition». The Sicilian Region, for its part, seems to welcome the challenge of supporting the transition and strengthening of the industrial area: «This Report is a tangible commitment towards a better future – says the regional councilor for Productive Activities Edy Tamajo present in Syracuse together to my council colleague Elena Pagana who is responsible for the Environment – . It is a clear declaration of commitment to balancing industrial development with the protection of the environment and the social fabric. At this moment the department of productive activities of the Sicilian Region can act in various ways to promote economic, social, environmental sustainability and the energy transition. For economic sustainability, it can incentivize innovation and research, encourage local development policies to promote sustainable businesses, facilitate access to credit for green projects and stimulate professional training to increase skills in the sustainable sector. For the energy transition, it can develop strategies to reduce the use of fossil fuels, promote investments in green infrastructure for renewable energy and support research and innovation in the energy sector to develop more efficient and sustainable technologies.”

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