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THE MECHANICAL DISTRICT OF SICILY: SERVING OIL & GAS
The Mechanical District of Sicily, officially established in 2006 by an official decree of recognition by Sicily Region, has its roots in half a century of industrial history in the area. It all started when a manufacturing centre was set up in the Siracusa-Priolo-Augusta area in the 1950s, when multinational petrol refineries arrived and transformed the basis of the local economy from agricultural to industrial. Even today, most of the district’s 160 or so companies are concentrated in the Siracusa-Priolo-Augusta triangle, although some can also be found in Milazzo, Ragusa and Gela. There are 4,000 employees in all.
The arrival of a new generation of employees along with the diffusion of new knowledge and techniques led to the emergence of mechanical industries and the development of satellite industries. Over three decades later, the district has become a complex system where large general contractors, craft businesses and services companies coexist and cooperate. The associated companies are highly specialised in many different “satellite” activities created by the petrochemical industry and refineries: design, construction of systems, testing, start-up, maintenance, implementation, construction of civil and industrial infrastructures, components, logistics, technical solutions, ecology and environment.
The mechanical district of Sicily is particularly well qualified to cater for all the stages in the industrial processes and supply all the collateral services related to the Oil & Gas production sector. In particular, the companies operate in civil and industrial construction and maintenance; road construction; construction and maintenance of aqueducts and drainage systems; construction and maintenance of methane pipelines in urban areas; construction and maintenance of gas and oil pipelines; renovation and repairs; mechanical installation of chemical, petrochemical, electrical power and other industrial plants; laying of pipelines; design, fabrication and installation of metal structural work, piping and off-shore modules; maintenance and overhaul of rotating machines; design and construction of special valves and electro-hydraulic actuators; and, lastly, engineering design and work.
Even before the district was established, the companies had outstanding productive potential, a high level of specialisation and were investing continuously in research and development. One of the district’s strongest features is that it has combined this know-how and broad range of experience, abandoned a go-it-alone attitude, and created an organisation that is able to respond to the needs of any customer by providing customised, turnkey solutions. With the aid of these competitive advantages, the district aims to build on the already excellent trading position – including outside Italy – of most of its associates and to improve on it. The fact that it has created a network for so many productive enterprises is a further advantage, because it allows the Sicilian district, and any future foreign partners, to expand the quality and quantity of services and available solutions.
Of course, the companies in the Siracusa-Priolo-Augusta were always strongly oriented to international business even before joining the district. Many of today's associates have been working for years in strategic areas for the petroleum and gas market, such as Libya, the Middle East and central Africa. At present, the share of exports in the district’s revenue (400 million per year) has reached about 50%, with flows above all towards the Mediterranean area, Middle East and Eastern Europe. Therefore, the district has decided to pursue the target of internationalisation at three overlapping levels: strengthen existing commercial ties inherited from companies that brought with them an endowment of experience and trade links; carry out a policy of promotion at the international level by participation in trade fairs and events, according to a six-month or annual plan; launch independent trade penetration initiatives. The countries that seem most promising in this sense are Libya and, in the medium to long term, also India, Kazakhstan and Albania. These countries offer interesting perspectives for development and are now the object of research and analysis.