Enrico Mattei

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Enrico Mattei (April 29, 1906 - October 27, 1962) was an Italian public administrator. After World War II he was given the task of dismantling the Italian Petroleum Agency Agip, a state enterprise established by the Fascist regime. Instead Mattei enlarged and reorganized it into the National Fuel Trust Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI). Under his direction ENI negotiated important oil concessions in the Middle East as well as a significant trade agreement with the Soviet Union which helped break the oligopoly of the 'Seven Sisters' that dominated the mid 20th century oil industry. He also introduced the principle whereby the country that owned exploited oil reserves received 75% of the profits.

Mattei, who became a powerful figure in Italy, was a left-wing Christian Democrat, and a member of parliament from 1948 to 1953. He died in a mysterious plane crash in 1962, likely caused by a bomb in the plane.


Early life

Enrico Mattei was born in Acqualagna, in the province of Pesaro and Urbino, Marche, the son of a carabiniere (a member of the Italian national gendarmerie). At the age of 24 he left Marche for Milan, where he worked in various jobs and later joined the Resistenza and became a well known partisan.

Agip and ENI

In 1945, the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (CLN - Comitato di LIberazione Nazionale Italian Liberation Front) appointed him to the leadership of Agip, the national oil company created by the Fascists, with instructions to close it as soon as possible. Mattei, instead, worked hard to restructure the company and transform it into one of the nation's most important economic assets.

In 1949 Mattei made an astonishing public announcement: the soil of Northern Italy "was" rich in oil and methane, and Italy would solve all its energy needs using its own resources. Through the Italian press, he then encouraged the idea that the nation (still suffering from the consequences of defeat in war), would soon become rich. Agip's financial value immediately grew in the Stock Exchange markets, and the company (owned by the State, but operating as a private company) became at once solid and important. The reality was a little different: in the territory of Cortemaggiore, in the Valley of Po, a certain amount of methane had been found together with a small quantity of oil.

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