The Italian-Soviet Oil Agreement of 1960 in the Context of European Energy Security

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On October 11, 1960, an agreement was made between the Italian state energy company Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI) and the Soviet “Soyuznefteexport” for the export to Italy of a batch of oil worth 100 million US dollars in exchange for large-diameter pipes, machinery, tires, and technical assistance. This agreement, despite its purely economic nature, significantly influenced the international political situation of its time.

Firstly, this agreement demonstrated a dangerous trend towards establishing economic cooperation between the countries of the European Economic Community and the USSR, despite belonging to opposing camps of the Cold War. Shortly after its signing, the European Economic Community was forced to review its policy in the energy sector and for the first time introduce the concept of “energy security” into official documents.

Secondly, the agreement between ENI and “Soyuznefteexport”, in which the price of oil was lower than the global average, served as a pretext for NATO to declare the existence of the Soviet plan “Soviet Oil Offensive”. According to reports of the time, the USSR planned to export large volumes to Western European countries in exchange for a change in their political position to a more neutral one. As a result of the research conducted, the NATO Economic Committee and the US Congress limited themselves to issuing recommendations on continuing to study the USSR’s plans to expand trade with Western European countries and to establish quotas on the import of Soviet oil.

Thirdly, an indirect consequence of signing this agreement was the formation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which feared a dumping of oil prices due to the emergence of a new competitor. In 1960, the founding of this organization went unnoticed, but in the future, it significantly influenced the development of the history of the last third of the 20th century.

Thus, studying the circumstances of the signing of the Italian-Soviet oil agreement of 1960 allows us to trace the formation of the problem of European energy security, which poses a serious problem for the countries of the European nowadays.


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Domin, O. and Samofatov, M. (2024) “The Italian-Soviet Oil Agreement of 1960 in the Context of European Energy Security”, Problems of World History, (25), pp. 69–85. doi: 10.46869/2707-6776-2024-25-3.
Author Biographies

O. Domin

Domin Oleg – Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor, Professor of Odesa I.I. Mechnikov National University.

M. Samofatov

Samofatov Mykhaylo – Postgraduate Student, Lecturer of Odesa I.I. Mechnikov National University.


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