Sources of energy. – While the production of fossil fuels – Sulcis coal, anthracite, lignite – tends to decrease, Italy has now made its entry among the oil countries, not for a greater production of the old very modest fields of Piacentino and neighboring, but for the discovery of rich deposits at great depths in south-east Sicily (Ragusa, Gela). Crude oil production, which was just over 17,000 t in 1951, rose to around 200,000 in 1955, to around 1,260,000 in 1957, topped 1,800,000 in 1958 and 2 million in 1959 (90% of Sicily). An oil pipeline transports crude oil from Ragusa to the port of Augusta. Crude oil is refined in Italy (about 1,327,400 t in 1958), but our refining plants, about forty, they refine far greater quantities of foreign crude oil (about 22,800,000 t in 1958). The prospects for the production of methane also appear very broad, which from less than one million m3 in 1951 increased to over 6 million in 1958 and to 8 in 1959. The major centers are in the Cremona area, in the Lodigiano area, in the Parma area; followed by the region of the Po Delta, and the Ravenna area which seems to have huge reserves. There are numerous reports of deposits in other locations. The pipeline network is approaching 5,000 km.
As for electricity, in 1958 Italy possessed 2665 hydroelectric plants and 755 thermoelectric plants (including those powered by internal energy such as the Larderello soffioni); the former provided around 36 billion kWh, the latter over 9,500. There were about a hundred main hydroelectric plants (of which about twenty came into operation between 1 January 1958 and 30 June 1959). Among these, about fifteen in central-southern Italy, a couple in Sicily, and two in Sardinia.
For some main products of mines and quarries, the following table offers data relating to 1958 (the + sign indicates an increase in production, the – sign – tendency to decrease, the sign = stasis).
Industry.- In 1951, parallel to the demographic census, the industrial census was carried out, which provides copious but partly outdated data on the industrial structure of Italy. As has already been said, 35% of the active population was employed in industries, a percentage which is still increased, if we take into account other activities more or less directly connected with industrial ones. The activities that employed the greatest number of employees were the textile ones (about 1,150,000), including the clothing and apparel industries, followed closely by the metallurgical-mechanical ones (about 1,120,000). In the third place for the number of employees were the food industries in the broad sense, the construction industry in the fourth, the chemical and related industries in the fifth, the wood industries in the sixth. For the complex of industrial activities, Lombardy is by far in first place; at a distance follow Piedmont, Veneto, then, in order, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Campania, Liguria, Sicily, Puglia.
The industries that showed the greatest momentum, already in the war and post-war period, are the metallurgical-mechanical ones, as shown by some typical figures relating to 1958 (in brackets the figures of 1951): production of cast iron 2,060,000 t (950,000); of steel 6,271,000 t (3 million); production of motor vehicles 403,500 (145,500). There is also a great increase in shipbuilding, the cement factory, which must respond to the growing needs of the construction industries, some branches of chemical industries (fertilizers and chemical fertilizers, copper sulphate, pharmaceutical and photographic products, etc.; plastic materials in great increase after 1951; artificial textiles, paper). Among the real textile industries, the wool one is firmly maintained, and in a less lively way the cotton one; the others are in decline.
Among the food industries, the greatest increase in the last decade has been demonstrated by the dairy and canning industries.
A fact that does not find its reflection in the data of the 1951 census, because it became more pronounced in the following years, giving rise to much-debated problems today, is that of the industrialization of the South. For this, please refer to the item industry, in this App., Noting here only that a lively impulse is manifested not only in the major centers of peninsular Italy (Naples and satellites, Salerno, Bari, Taranto, Crotone, Reggio), of Sicily (Catania, Messina, Palermo), of Sardinia (Cagliari, Sassari), but also in smaller centers, such as, for example, Maratea in Calabria, Augusta in Sicily, Carbonia in Sardinia, etc.