Italian oil and gas company Eni has agreed to develop an agro-industrial supply chain for energy use in partnership with Italian agricultural company BF Spa.

The initiative’s first study-phase would assess the sustainability and competitiveness of an agro-industrial chain aimed at recovering the marginal areas identified in Italy through the development of sustainable agronomic practices, the companies said on 25 November.

Following the study phase, a pilot phase would be launched next year, the statement said, involving the cultivation of seeds such as safflower and brassica from which vegetable oil would be extracted and used in biofuel production at Eni’s biorefineries.

“[The] new initiative… involves the study and subsequent production of the first 2,000 national hectares of land used for the cultivation of oilseeds. The project will enhance abandoned areas of the country,” BF Spa CEO Federico Vecchioni said.

As well as taking place on farms directly owned by BF, seed cultivation could be undertaken by other businesses including cooperatives and professional organisations that could work in collaboration with BF and Eni, the companies said.