Enrico Mattei Enrico Mattei
Enrico Mattei

biography

First of five brothers Enrico Mattei was born in Acqualagna (PS) on the evening of April 29, 1906, to Antonio and Angela Galbani. The life of the Mattei family proceeds peacefully in the barracks of the Carabinieri of the Marche region.

 

Enrico attends elementary schools with little interest. He is an intelligent but undisciplined child, resistant to rules and impositions. In 1919 the Mattei family left Acqualagna and moved to Matelica. Mattei in the speech given in 1959 at the University of Camerino, on the occasion of the conferral of the honorary degree in chemistry, one of the few speeches containing autobiographical notes, tells us that at first the choice fell on Camerino.

 

“I came to Camerino many years ago, as a child, on a cart, with my father, a retired petty officer of the Carabinieri, with my mother and my little brothers. My father used to say that it is bad to be poor, because one cannot study, and without a degree one cannot go on. So he took us to Camerino, because in that city life was cheap and there were middle schools and university. We traveled with the cart far and wide looking for a home for us. So we left; my father shooking his head, leaving behind our shoulders that dreamed city and the hope of making us study. We went to a country not far away, where we were well; but Camerino has remained in my memory like a wonderful and too high mountaintop, the city of that bitter childish renunciation”.

 

Enrico, however, did not move immediately to Matelica, for a few years he remained with his grandmother Ester Marconi. After the elementary school, Enrico attended the lower technical school in Vasto: later his father sent him to L'Aquila to attend the higher technical school and take his diploma. But the boy does not want to study anymore. Parents as a last hope enrol him in the Technical School of Matelica, but even this attempt fails and Enrico leaves the school definitively.

 

After an adventurous getaway to Rome with a friend, Mattei began working as an apprentice in an artisan workshop, until in 1923 he was hired as a deliveryman in the tannery of Fiore family, in Matelica. The careers here are very fast: deliveryman at 16, worker at the skin’s purge at 17, technician at 18, deputy director of the chemical laboratory at 19, director at 20. Following the closure of the tannery in conjunction with the economic crisis of 1929, Mattei leaves heading to the North, equipped with several letters of presentation signed off by Giovanni Fiore.

 

Max Mayer seller for a year, sales representative of Lowenthal, an important German industry specialized in the production of chemical products for the tannery. In 1931 Mattei planned to prepare on his own those German products that could not be found on the Italian market, whose production did not involve particular or sophisticated technologies: the "Lombardy Chemical Industry grease and soaps" was born, a manufacturer of oils and paints for tanneries.

 

In 1931, together with his brother Umberto and his sisters Maria and Ester, he bought a new apartment in Piazza Carnaro. In the same building lives another Matelicese (Matelica citizen) Vincenzo Boldrini. The long-awaited wealth had finally arrived, Mattei invested his money in Matelica buying a house for his parents and in some landholdings. On March 29, 1936 he married Margherita Paulas, a dancer with the famous Schwartz company, in Vienna.

 

The friendship with Boldrini greatly influences the maturing of the personality of the future president of the ENI, and has a decisive role in the formation of political and social conceptions and favors the meeting with the exponents of the Milan Christian Democracy. Boldrini recalls those years:

"... a cycle of his years has remained in the shadows and is known only to me and very few others. It is of the utmost importance because it constituted for him the decisive turning point in political and social formation. I speak of the period 1940-44, when we lived together almost isolated while the misfortunes of the homeland matured ... In those years Mattei's ideas really began to modernize and take on a mobile and deep intensity. The idea of ​​mine was fading in him, and as they pressed in sorrow and misfortune, the thought that the ordered res publica, the fraternal community of men, the consent in the first principles are far more prominent, the which engage not only the State but before all and above all invest the responsibility of the citizen. I was still teaching in Milan and at home I was writing one of my usual books. Enrico and Umberto, to whom I had procured repeaters among my ancient students, youthfully returned to their studies to prepare and obtain a diploma in accounting after few months”. (10)

 

Mattei also matures politically and thanks to Boldrini has the opportunity to meet the leading exponents of Christian-democratic resistance. Mattei is now ready to work concretely.

 

In 1943 the C.L.N. of Milan, formed the military headquarters command. It includes Pazzi, for the Action Party, Giulio Alonzi, for the Liberal Party, Giovanni Citterio, for the Communist Party, Giovanni Battista Stucchi, for the PSIUP, and Galileo Vercesi for the Christian Democracy (DC). After the arrest and execution of Vercesi (12 March 1944), the DC found itself in serious difficulty for its replacement. Orio Giacchi, secretary of the Milan’s DC, proposed the task to Mattei. In the period of full activity of the partisan groups, he supports Falk's work in seeking funding from industrialists and banks, he is also in charge of administering the huge funds raised together with those sent by the allied armies. The action of Mattei is really incisive, thanks to its activity the Catholic forces grow and strengthened themselves considerably. His frantic activity does not go unnoticed. On October 26, 1944 about thirty people were captured, among those Mattei too. They are transported to a barracks in Como for being interrogated, Mattei thanks to an short circuit, taking advantage of the confusion, manages to escape.

 

In the spring of '45, the Allied Command launched the final offensive. On April 21st Bologna is free. All the major centers of the north are attacked by the partisan formations, before the arrival of the allies the C.L.N.A.I. keeps all the major urban centers under control. At the end of the hostilities, the commander of the American armies operating in Italy, General M. W. Clark, attributes to Mattei the "Bronze Star" with this motivation:

 

"Enrico Mattei, a member of the Headquarters of the National Liberation Committee of northern Italy (C.L.N.A.I.), for heroic action concerning military operations against the enemy from 1 March to 2 May 1945. Despite the shortage of weapons and equipment, he always hampered the enemy with continuous acts of sabotage and with attacks on convoys and troops. Demonstrating surprising skill and talent, together with great loyalty and heroism in carrying out the plan of the Allied Commands, he used the means at his disposal in favour of the Allied Forces. The worthy contribution to the Allied Forces must remain among the most glorious tradition of a freedom-loving people".

 

On April 28, 1945, the Central Economic Commission of the C.L.N.A.I., chaired by Cesare Merzagora, appointed Mattei as extraordinary commissioner of the AGIP for northern Italy. The task conferred on Mattei is of a very little importance, "secondary and without future", an attempt to remove him from the political scene. A few days after the assignment of the task, on May 18, 1945, Marcello Soleri, Minister of the Treasury in the second Bonomi government, informed the direction of the AGIP of the order to liquidate the company.

 

Mattei starts the thinning work, firing numerous researchers and starts negotiations for the sale of the plants, with some American companies but, the relevant figure, 250 million, which they immediately offer, make him suspicious.

 

As made him suspicious, the hundreds of requests for research permits, for areas adjacent to those in which AGIP had found methane.

 

These elements and the information of the AGIP technicians convince the Commissioner to postpone the negotiations for the liquidation of the institution. No doubt the studies carried out by the AGIP technicians gave hope for the discovery of interesting hydrocarbon deposits in the Po Valley and in other Italian regions, although the difficulties of their research and the very high cost of the latter were perfectly known. Perhaps the real economic potential of methane was not clear to Mattei either; in the Po Valley he seeks and wants to discover oil, methane was only a fallback.

 

The new Parri government cancels the directives of Soleri. Mattei can activate his first drilling campaign in the center of Caviaga, where technicians hope to find large quantities of hydrocarbons; the first well is scarcely productive. Despite this, Mattei wants to continue the work:
"I ordered the continuation of the perforations and I had the satisfaction of realizing the splendid productive possibilities of that gas field of Caviaga which was the first of the successful series of finds in the Po Valley".


After these positive results, the Council of Ministers makes available to AGIP an anticipation of 600 million lire. With these funds, Mattei can renew the drilling probes and other equipment needed to continue the research campaign. In 1947, the same AGIP Board of Directors, chaired by Arnaldo Pedretti, approved the suspension of hydrocarbon research in Italy; the reasons given to justify this decision are of an economic nature - the government's determination not to fund new oil research - technical - meagre balance of the twenty-five years of research by AGIP - and political - opportunity to abandon the field of research to Italian private initiative and foreign, making available the study material accumulated by the State company.

The action of Mattei is now destined to failure, he tries the only initiative still viable: the political one.

 

The new political crisis and the removal from the government of the left parties, increased the importance of Mattei's political role and gave him a new possibility for the rescue of the AGIP.

 

In May 1947, De Gasperi formed his fourth government, a minority monochrome. Removing the social-communists from the government the Trentino statesman had to clearly demonstrate the DC's inter-classism. He certainly needed the rich Lombard bourgeoisie, but he also needed to show a Christian democracy committed also to the left. And who better than Mattei could show this commitment? Mattei the legendary partisan, organizer and head of the Catholic resistance.

The Resistance should not remain the monopoly of the political forces of the left and Mattei is the only man capable of representing the party in this particular area of ​​political life that has always remained in the shadows. He is entrusted with the task of detaching the Catholic forces from the communist ones within the ANPI. Mattei gets back to work with alacrity and once again gets the desired results. What was supposed to be the first unitary congress of the Resistance - February 28, 1948 - turns into a quarrel between communists and others and results in the creation of the Italian Federation of Volunteers of Freedom in open opposition to the ANPI. A few months later, following the same procedure, the union split follows.

 

Mattei decides to actively engage in politics, he presents himself in the '48 elections in the district of Milan-Pavia. His election, cannot be defined brilliant, is the penultimate of the elected. Immediately after 18 April, Mattei achieves its goal: on 10 June, the AGIP assembly is convened to renew the Board of Directors, Marcello Boldrini is elected president Enrico Mattei vice-president.

 

Mattei is busily working to solve the body's two major problems: the increase in the search for hydrocarbons throughout the Po Valley and the marketing of the methane that AGIP has found and that it cannot sell.

 

Mattei tackles the first problem by coming up with a vast research plan and expanding and modernizing the company's entire mining equipment. The results are once again positive, now the AGIP has more gas at its disposal than it could have sold, but there is still no trace of oil. The private groups, in the spring of '49, started a press campaign against the state company. Mattei, however, is also prepared for this latest attack, he had an extraordinary card in store: that of oil.

 

In Cortemaggiore the night of March 19 of that year, oil, a very light and high quality oil, but in very modest quantity, starts to gush out from the well along with methane, ten tons a day. Mattei kept the news hidden to be able to exploit it in better times. He communicated it to the press the evening before the opening of a conference on oil organized by Confindustria in Padua. With just one move, Mattei manages to neutralize an accurate print campaign skillfully prepared against him.
Every Italian, on the morning of that June 13th, feels a little richer, but above all he feels freed from a sense of defrauding that has tormented him for a long time. The discovery of oil in our country was more important than in other countries, because Italy had always been deprived of energy sources, the fact had caused a heavy delay in industrial development and an unbridgeable gap compared to other European nations.

 

Noting that oil did not want to be found, Mattei devotes all his energy to trying to sell those enormous quantities of methane that his technicians continued to find in the Po Valley. Mattei has developed an accurate plan to quantify the potential consumers of his gas. Once the probable buyers are known, their geographical location and potential consumption, from the start to the construction of the pipelines. This decision would have frightened even the most unscrupulous of entrepreneurs. The Italian law did not provide for the obligation of the right of passage for the methane pipelines, it was therefore necessary to deal with all the owners of the funds crossed, with the public bodies: months and months of external and expensive negotiations. Mattei does not do any of this; first lay its pipes then bargain it. The SNAM teams carried out the work, for the most part, at night; in the morning the work was so advanced that the protests were useless. The case of crossing Cremona is typical of this way of operating.

 

Since 1949 SNAM has connected the industries of the Bergamo area with Caviaga, and in 1949 the Caviaga - Sesto San Giovanni - Milan methane pipeline is completed. The works become frantic in the fifties. The pipeline system of SNAM and AGIP, which in 1949 have a development of 257 kilometer and a diameter of 96 mm, pass in each of the following years to 373 Km. And 121 mm; at 706 Km. and 135.5 mm; at 1268 Km. at 179 mm; at 2064 Km. at 179 mm.

 

In the same years, 20 million, 104 million, 306 million, 780 million, 1 billion and 200 million cubic meters of methane are transported respectively. At the end of 1952 the cities of Milan, Pavia, Novara, Varese, Bergamo, Lecco, Cremona, Brescia, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Turin, Verona, Mantua, Vicenza, Modena, Bologna and numerous smaller towns were supplied with natural gas. Building for the first time the Mattei methane pipelines excluded the competition of the other companies forever and assured us considerable financial resources that are very useful for them to strengthen the AGIP, thus laying the foundations for the birth of the ENI.

Still no one in Italy has fully realized the economic potential of methane and no one understands the importance of building pipelines. Those who had built them first had automatically built the exclusive gas distribution and consequently had a formidable source of self-financing at their disposal. When private industrialists realized this, they began to bombard public opinion by accusing the AGIP of excessive profits and damaging, or at least delaying, the economic development of the country.

 

But now it is late and the foundation of a public body for hydrocarbons a logical consequence: the ENI is now in fact already born. The law establishing the ENI it was approved on 21 January 1953, the new law provided for the creation of a body governed by public law, bringing together all the State's participations in the oil sector. To it were recognized two exclusive: the research and the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Padana plain and in a wide strip of the Adriatic coast; construction and operation of pipelines for the transport of national mineral hydrocarbons. The new body could research, extract, work, transport, use and trade in natural hydrocarbons and vapors. Before assuming the office of President of the ENI, Mattei renounced the parliamentary mandate on 4 March 1953 and sent this letter to the President of the Chamber of Deputies.

 

"Honorable President, the law on parliamentary incompatibilities, now promulgated, requires me to choose between the office of chamber’s deputy and the offices I hold in state-owned companies that deal with oil research. I consider it my duty not to abandon the companies to which I have dedicated most of my strength over the past few years, with great love. Although the results achieved by the activity resumed after the last war in the field of hydrocarbons are noteworthy and comforting, much remains to be done to consolidate and expand the works and initiatives that will surely contribute to the better organization of the national economy and will give to the institutions the pride of having opened new and unforeseen horizons for work and technique.


I therefore resolve to renounce the parliamentary mandate not without a profound regret: but, at the same time, with the confidence of being able to fulfil other responsibilities in the interest of the country. I ask you, Mr President, to take note of the resignation I have the honour of giving you and accepting the expression of my respectful and mindful compliment.
Enrico Mattei ”.

 

The new law on incompatibility had been approved by Parliament a short time before, on the proposal of some Christian Democratic deputies. Following the same law also Giorgio La Pira, almost in the same period was forced to resign, preferring to remain Mayor of Florence. The clash over the establishment of the ENI made clear to Mattei that the majority of his party's deputies were not yet ready to move towards a serious reform policy and that the normal legislative activity was not the most appropriate means to implement his institutions of social policy; if he wanted to conclude something valid and do it within acceptable times it was more appropriate to move in the industrial field, here the room for manoeuvre certainly remained still very wide.

 

Outside the Parliament he could move with more freedom, and he was far from the controls of the opposition parties and from the even stricter controls of his party colleagues. The structure of the ENI allowed him considerable freedom of action, the Parliament could not condition him in any way.

 

Mattei was now at the head of an industrial group in which nearly 10 thousand people worked, but the company was completely deprived of a capable management team. Mattei manages to set it up in just one year; procures personally chosen youth technicians from the best Italian universities.

 

Among these collaborators were Eugenio Cefis, known during the period of the resistance; Raffaele Girotti, Matelicese too - Girotti had been the main architect of the realization of most of the methane pipelines built by SNAM - Carlo Laumatti, Paolo Falaschini, Pietro Sette, Franco Briatico, Enrico Gandolfi, Gaetano Baldacci.


It is very difficult to try to understand what were the characteristics on which Mattei's entrepreneurial skills were based; his strong personality was influenced more by instinct and intuition than by a scientific preparation which, as we have seen, was largely lacking.

 

Sometimes those intuitions could seem complex and sometimes eccentric, but over time they proved to be right and effective. He was a "strategist entrepreneur" and dealt with every complex problem using the tactics of small continuous fights, at the end of which he succeeded in creating a complete and organic design.

 

Mattei was essentially an innovator; he always personally took care of all the new projects and managed to follow them even in the most insignificant details. He believed that Italy, during the fascist period, had accumulated a very serious delay and this made necessary a great effort of technological, commercial, productive and organizational innovation. He took great care with ENI's image: the advertisements, the public statements, the colors of the AGIP stations, or the color of the group's cars. Mattei, like all innovators, was a centralizer. He knew that not everyone believed in his ideas, and that many doubted that they could be realizable in those times, for this reason he was forced to make a strict control to make sure that the effort was not interrupted and to keep it constant during each phase of the realization of the project.

 

The years spent by Mattei at the helm of the institution were so frantic that it is difficult to reconstruct the activities and initiatives undertaken by him. The greatest efforts were immediately directed towards improving the distribution network of the group. The strategy used for the sale of methane was repeated also with petrol.

 

In 1953 the filling stations were anonymous and reduced to the essentials; Mattei wanted the AGIP "pumps" to be easily recognizable. He personally followed the planning of the filling stations and completed them with a large number of additional services: mechanical assistance, bar, restaurant, toilets. He invented a new symbol for the AGIP, because he considered the old one too anonymous and modest. He chose the famous six-legged dog, which seemed to him more suited to give the image of the modernity and speed of his company. The choices for the name and the motto of the new petrol produced by AGIP were his: "Supercortemaggiore, the powerful Italian petrol".

 

In those years the sale of fuels was limited by the small number of vehicles in circulation and the disastrous situation of the Italian road network certainly did not encourage the increase in cars. To change this situation, ENI launched the idea of ​​building a new and efficient motorway network. Together with FIAT, Italcementi and Pirelli a new company was founded, the SISI, which in a short time prepared a project for the construction of the Autostrada del Sole, the project was immediately sold to the Stateand the I.R.I. was commissioned to carry it out.

 

The increase in fuel sales constantly reminded the President of ENI of his biggest concern: the lack of oil. Just when ENI began to operate most of the oil fields were controlled by large international companies, so ENI had only two possibilities to survive: or have its own hydrocarbons to be refined and sold, or buy crude oil from large companies and depend on them. Mattei was forced to choose this second route.

 

ENI reached an advantageous agreement with Anglo - Persian (23) for the supply of crude oil and refining at the Venice plant, which was owned by ENI and Anglo - Persian itself.

 

The year 1955 marked for Mattei the beginning of a new challenge: that of petrochemistry. In the spring of that year Angelo Fornara, a young engineer at Edison, asked Mattei for a large supply of methane. Fornara wanted to exploit the hydrogen contained in the methane to produce ammonia and with this nitrogen fertilizers. Starting from methane he had calculated a cost reduction of 30 percent.

 

Mattei was immediately fascinated by the project, not granted methane, but proposed to Fornara the direction of the largest Italian petrochemical complex that ENI wanted to build in Ravenna, to exploit the large methane deposits recently discovered by AGIP. Work began in 1956; once the plant was finished it would have been able to produce 60,000 tons of rubber and 750,000 tons of fertilizers per year. The chemical war between Montecatini, Edison and ENI had begun.

The Edison, immediately afterwards, built two new factories, one in Mantua and one in Priolo. ENI responded with the Gela plant. Montecatini concentrated all its resources on the construction of the Brindisi plant. The three companies put in the challenge their entire economic and technical potentials. The ENI won because just made fewer mistakes than his opponents. The result of this clash was baffling: the Montecatini due to the many mistakes made in Brindisi, collapsed and was absorbed by the Edison. Mattei had managed to reduce the price of the chemical fertilizer, artificially kept high by private industry.

 

1957 marked for Mattei the beginning of the most bitter phase of the conflict with the big oil companies. The first sign of the clash was the agreement with Egyptian Prime Minister Nasser for research permits for the exploitation of the El Belaym oil fields, in the Sinai desert and shortly after the new agreement with the Iranian government. Previously, oil companies had to pay a modest initial fee and a rental fee for the land included in the concession to obtain research permits. After the discovery of the field, further sums were established; these varied in relation to the size of the field: the so-called royalties. After the Massadeq crisis, a new royalties agreement was reached. Mattei substantially modified this agreement. A mixed Italian-Iranian company called SIRIP was established with Persia, with a capital subscribed in equal parts by the AGIP Mineraria and the Iranian oil company NIOC. The new company had been granted three research permits: one in the Persian Gulf, the second in the Lagras Mountains and the third on the Sea Coast of Oman.

The Iranian State would receive fifty per cent of the Company's net profits as royalties, taxes; the remaining profit was to be divided into equal parts between the two partners.

 

The agreement was of great importance for the two countries. Italy, for the first time, managed to obtain concessions in the Middle East, the richest oil region in the world. Iran, first among the Middle Eastern countries, was able to enter into participation with a Western oil company on an equal footing. The period of time between the years '54 -58 saw the attempt to set up a national energy agency, Mattei wanted to incorporate more energy sectors into a single public company: oil, methane, natural vapors, electrical energy, atomic energy. The ENI technicians wanted to continue to develop the oil business of the institution until it became a major oil multinational and at the same time in Italy they wanted to employ it in all fields of energy production thus making it the supporter of any further economic development of the country.


In 1953 Mattei had tried the route of geothermal energy, forming, together with Finelettrica, the Italian Endogenous Perhaps Society (SIFE). The new company, in five years, and with an investment of two billion lire, had to increase research in the sector; but the lack of agreement on the sale price of the electricity produced with natural vapors caused the project to fail and the SIFE was immediately dissolved (1954).


Soon after, 1957, the state body became interested, in the field of alternative energy, in nuclear energy; just that year the construction of the Latina nuclear power plant began. Few could understand why ENI, at a time when the supply of oil was abundant and the cost extremely low, was interested in atomic energy. Mattei indicated on several occasions the need to develop a coordinated energy policy that was to touch all aspects of energy production; this time he was not heard. Perhaps because he didn't address the topic with his usual impetuosity, preferring to delegate his project to politicians. Fanfani himself supported his initiative.

 

In December 1959, Mattei secretly met the president of one of the "seven sisters", most probably he should have been Eugene Holman president of the ESSO. In that meeting Mattei offered to participate in the project for the construction of the Genoa-Ingolstad oil pipeline and the construction of the refinery in Morocco. On both offers he obtained a clear refusal. After that stormy meeting the struggle between Mattei and the "seven sisters" became more severe. The purchase of very large quantities of Russian oil by ENI triggered very harsh reactions in Italy and abroad.

 

Until then, Russia had used its oil for internal use only, but in 1950 new deposits were found in the Ural Mountains above the national consumption, Mattei was constantly looking for oil at the lowest possible cost; Russia offered him a lot and at an extremely affordable price. By purchasing it, Mattei saved large sums and relaxed the conditioning of the "seven sisters" on the ENI. The USSR was willing to furnish it many millions of tons of crude oil, 16% of our needs in those years, the contract provided for long-term supplies with precise deadlines. ENI in exchange for oil supplied the USSR with a large quantity of industrial products: rubber, fertilizers, steel pipes; products that came from the Ravenna plants and that had to be placed with more and more effort on the market. Moreover the mechanical industries of the group, such as SNAM and Nuovo Pignone, were also included as suppliers on the Italian side and from this they derived indisputable benefit.

 

The intervention of the State company in the south of Italy took place with delay, in 1957, immediately after the approval of the special laws for the south. ENI had not found the necessary conditions to intervene in Sicily, the most promising mining region in southern Italy, because shortly before its establishment, the Sicily Region had approved a new mining law that had assured the American oil companies the granting of the most promising research areas. Instead, in the other southern regions, in-depth geological studies had not yet begun. The law n.674, of 29 July 1957, obliged all state industries to allocate at least 40% of their investments to the South.


The ENI, unable to intervene massively in the mining sector, developed a four-year intervention plan (July 1957 - June 1961) comprising diversified activities: mining, chemical and nuclear.

 

One of the main achievements was the Gela oil plant that was designed to work one million and 700 thousand tons of crude oil every year. This was transformed into 215 thousand tons of gasoline, 600 thousand tons of fuel oil, 225 thousand tons of diesel, 200 thousand tons of sulfuric acid. The plan also included the construction of a second petrochemical plant for the cost of 27 billion which was to produce: polythene, ethylene oxide, propylene and glycols.

 

Mattei's interest in developing the south did not depend solely on political-legislative obligations but was deeply rooted in his personality. Mattei saw in the south a place where the application of his development effort could stimulate dormant energies and change, with the level of income and social emancipation of the southern masses, also their character.

 

"My friends, I too come from a poor province, from a poor country like yours ... we will not take anything away. All that has been found, that we have found is of Sicily and our effort has been made for Sicily and by way ... We work by conviction, with the conviction that our country and Sicily and your province can go towards greater well-being: that there can be work for everyone and that we can move towards greater personal dignity, greater freedom. My friends, I only tell you this: we feel committed to you for what there is to do in this land (it was interrupted, and resumed). My friend, I do not know how you are called, but I too was poor like you; I too had to emigrate because my country didn't give me work; I went to the North and now from the North we are returning to the South with all the experience acquired. We committed ourselves with our strength, with all our knowledge, with our men, to give all our necessary contribution to the development and industrialization of Sicily and your Sicily. I have to - as I have already to the Mayor – beg-pardon for not having come before. But there are the commitments that we have all over the world ... Now on this (on the gas reserves) a subsequent work must be grafted, industries must be grafted that will have to bring well-being and wealth to this area ".

 

Mattei felt attracted, more by feeling than by reason, to developing countries, to those populations and movements that, even with weapons, tried to regain freedom.

 

The decolonization process was putting old industrial empires in serious difficulty; these were held responsible for the establishment of the colonial phenomenon and for having kept it alive for centuries. The Italian political class and its industry had been touched only marginally by the phenomenon, and now, they had the opportunity to occupy the spaces that were left free.

 

Mattei began to establish relations with the peoples of the third world immediately after the birth of ENI. The first large foreign contract was the construction of the Egyptian pipeline, followed by the sale of sophisticated technologies, produced by SNAM and then by Pignone, to Pakhistan and many other African countries. It should also be remembered that the first complete oil agreement was signed with Morocco, this started from the search for oil fields and reached the construction of plants for the sale of finished products.

 

The international policy of ENI was not the result of Mattei's thought alone, its organic formulation gave decisive contributions: Boldrini, Bo, Gronchi and La Pira.

 

ENI's third world policy choices provoked tenacious negative reactions; in fact it was feared that they had somehow disturbed the Atlanticist and Europeanist policy that the Italian government carried out with great commitment in those years.

 

Since the end of the Second World War, the national and independent oil companies had conquered an ever greater space in the world oil market, it was no longer possible that this was governed solely by the interests of the big oil companies; it was necessary to proceed with the formulation of new political and economic agreements between the producing countries and the consumer countries.

For Mattei it was unthinkable that the entire oil system, already undermined by serious instability, could continue to stand still for a long time. He knew that the transformation, which had been going on since then, would take a very long time. The shift of the control of the deposits from international companies to the producing countries would have occurred with great difficulty and with great tensions, this process was necessary and unstoppable and sooner or later someone would have tried to take advantage of the situation of uncertainty to exploit it to his advantage. Mattei set to work immediately to create the premises for Italy to win a role at the negotiating table, did not want and could not wait to be invited; he wanted to present himself as a protagonist to defend the energy needs of our country.

A strictly anti-colonialist policy, a firm and decisive critique of the international oil market, an open and loyal collaboration with developing countries, seemed to him the most suitable for achieving this purpose.

 

"We believe in the future of our country; we have faith in its possibilities for improvement, in its capacity for development and progress; we feel the duty to work, to the full extent of our strength, to build day by day the building of freedom and justice in which we want to live in peace and above all we want to prepare for the new generations, in the hope that they will never have to suffer the painful experience that we have suffered.


But we also know that others yearn for freedom and justice and we know that they suffer and die for them.


This is why we share a broader vision of human problems and relationships that extends from individuals to peoples. In the light of this, the traditional barriers to build for the defence of particular interests, or even justified by an august vision of the world, will have to fall into the recognition of the identical and universal equality of human rights to life and well-being.

 

Historically, the competition between peoples that has been transformed from strictly political to economic, can and must remain a peaceful competition.

 

However, it imposes the exclusion of any form of blackmail or intimidation and is not compatible with the undue interference of the economically stronger countries in the internal life of the weaker ones. Only in this way can the hoped-for international cooperation be implemented and will it be a real help for economically depressed peoples to achieve a dignified and just standard of living.

 

Unfortunately there are also examples in recent history of how the world is hardly orientating towards this new conception. We must ensure that colonialism, now universally condemned, is only a sad reminder, a sad reminder of the past, and does not resist or try to survive under different but no less onerous forms ".


In the sixties the ENI had grown at a very fast pace, consequently to facilitate this growth, relevant investment had been started that had not yet entered the production phase. The yield of methane, alone, was no longer sufficient to finance the complex activities of the institution, the oil found in Iran and Egypt began to arrive in Italy, but the financial position of ENI did not yet find any benefit.

 

To the "natural" enemies of the State Company and its president, new ones had been added; the O.A.S. had already threatened Mattei's life several times.

 

Also in those years, many important innovations were also announced on the political field.

 

The Christian Democrats were seriously approaching the Socialist Party and soon the first centre-left government would be born. Mattei positively judged the centre-left and this position had caused him difficulties in relations with some of his collaborators.

 

The attacks of the opposing press were always hard, in July 1962 Montanelli on the pages of the "Corriere della Sera" had started almost a crusade against ENI, but even these were situations already known to Mattei and through the group's newspaper he had always known how to neutralize all attacks. Mattei was preparing yet another big "blow", a sensational event that would have once again amazed his opponents: the agreement with the ESSO. An agreement that is fully satisfactory for both companies. ENI would finally have access to Middle Eastern oil and the ESSO would have removed the Italian corporation from Russian influence. Everything was ready, Mattei would have gone to the United States to sign the agreement, to meet President Kennedy and to receive an "honorary" degree from Stanford University.

 

Mattei were proposing himself three years of work to consolidate the development policy painstakingly developed with the ENI management team. After this period, he would have abandoned the presidency of ENI and retired to fish. Fate did not want this program to be implemented.

 

On a foggy autumn night, a few kilometers from home, a sabotage to his plane put an end to its extraordinary human adventure.

 

Thirty years have passed since that night and it seems appropriate to begin a serious work of analysis of his work, of his development models that have so significantly characterized the industrialization of our country.