Eni: the history of a great company
From the beginning we have put people at the centre of our activities: for them we began to produce energy and have continued to work with them. This is the story of our company, from its foundation up to the present, passing through international relations, acquisitions and historical changes. The “Mattei Formula”, introduced by our founder, which is based on cooperation and integration with the countries and communities we work with, is the thread that connects all of the main stages of our history.

From 1953 to 1972: Eni’s first steps

Since its foundation, in 1953, Eni has established very close relationships with people, who over the years developed a strong sense of belonging and pride. Initiatives were introduced to facilitate the activities of workers: in Borca di Cadore and in Cesenatico, holiday villages and colonies were built, and in Rome and San Donato Milanese residential complexes for employees were constructed. Within a few years Eni could count on a strong organisational structure, with 56,000 employees, highly-qualified and experienced technicians, cutting-edge research laboratories and a Higher School for Hydrocarbon Studies, established for the training of Italian and foreign managers and executives. The need to bring energy to the country soon pushed us beyond national borders.
In December 1954 an agreement with the Nasser-led Egyptian government shook the foundations of the global oil market. The agreement initiated the direct participation and an equal decision-making role for oil producing countries through the establishment of joint ventures. Three years later, a similar agreement was signed in March 1957 with the Shah of Persia, Reza Phlevi, and the Iranian national oil company, this new formula – which came to be known as the “Mattei Formula” – marked the beginning of a turning point in relations between producer countries and the world’s oil companies.

Portrait of a great company

Eni, Russia and China

Eni’s position in the geopolitical landscape in the years of the “Cold War” acquired special importance thanks to the agreement signed in October 1960 with the Soviet Government for the import of Russian crude oil to Italy at very affordable prices. In the same period, Eni manages to open the doors for collaboration with China. In 1958 Mattei managed to establish relationships and sign agreements in different areas. Relations between the East and West were still very fragmented and the contrast with Russia became complicated: Moscow called home its technicians, causing an interruption in the activities at entire production complexes in China. For the implementation of its plans for industrialisation and economic development, China asked for help from Western countries: and Mattei’s Eni, in collaboration with the country, was able to play a delicate and courageous diplomatic role in the dialogue between the parties.

A stratified strategy

In the following years, Eni decided to adopt a dual strategy: on the oil side by entering into joint venture agreements with a number of foreign companies for the supply of crude oil (Egypt, Iran, Libya, Tunisia). In Italy, meanwhile, it focused on strengthening its position in the energy market with the acquisition of Italgas, in 1967, and the expansion of the petrochemical industry.

From 1972 to 1998: new agreements and the stock exchange listing

In this period successive international agreements were made, aimed at expanding the national panorama and dialogue with communities. One signed with the Libyan government in September 1974 was followed by further agreements in Egypt, Nigeria and Tunisia. From 1976 Eni could count on two new oil fields discovered in the British sector of the North Sea. The strategy for the implementation of large transport infrastructure for natural gas transport over long distances turned out to be a determining factor with the construction of a pipeline network of thousands of kilometres in Europe and across the Mediterranean, a project that would have been unimaginable just a few years earlier. Extensive exploration and oil and gas production activities enabled Eni to overcome the economic downturn caused by the second oil crisis in 1979-80, following that of 1973 provoked by the Yom Kippur War. In 1983, with the entry into operation of the Transmed undersea pipeline linking Algeria to Sicily through Tunisia, a new agreement was signed with Libya which focused on the exploitation of Bouri, the largest oil field in the Mediterranean. The following year, Eni discovered other fields in Egypt, the Gulf of Mexico and Congo, and consolidated its presence in Nigeria. In 1988, high quality oil was discovered also in Italy, in the Val d’Agri in Basilicata, the largest onshore oilfield in continental Europe. A legislative decree of August 1992 transformed from Eni a state-owned entity into a private company, paving the way for a listing on the Italian Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange at the end of 1995 and the sale, in successive tranches, of shares to institutional investors, private investors and employees.

From 1998 to 2009: internationalisation and sustainability

In these years Eni was obliged to implement a change of strategy in the natural gas market. Following the approval, in the second half of the nineties, of European Union directives for the electricity sector and the natural gas area, 2000 saw the beginning of market liberalisation. In the meanwhile about 70% of Eni’s capital passed into the hands of private shareholders. The process was completed with the transformation of the main companies heading up the different sectors into “divisions”, making Eni an all-round operating company. This led to a more intense process of internationalisation. The development was launched of the most important oil field discovered in the last thirty years, the Kazakh Kashagan Field, in the northern Caspian Sea. In 2003 work began on “Blue Stream” gas pipeline, a joint venture between Eni and Gazprom to transport gas from southern Russia to Ankara, the Turkish capital. The years from 2005 to 2009 saw the development of projects and international agreements, the acquisition of reserves in the most important areas in the world and the strengthening of the company’s leadership in the European gas market. Maximum attention was given to issues of quality, innovation and cooperation, in a word to “sustainability”. And it is precisely in sustainability that Eni is currently at the top of the world rankings, as is confirmed by the numerous awards won at international level, starting from the inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. Objectives achieved by remaining loyal to the company’s mission of building an integrated energy company, committed to growth in oil and natural gas, making cooperation and friendship with the countries in which it operates the strategic driver of its success.


Edoardo Gellner and Enrico Mattei at Borca di Cardore. Mario Merlo (1955)
Mattei and Gellner inaugurate Eni's village. Studio Mario Merlo (1958)
Tunisia's President Bourghiba visits the colony with Enrico Mattei (1960)
Mattei, Antonio Segni and Emilio Colombo in the church Nostra Signora del Cadore (1961)
The emporium of the Eni's village (1958)
Mattei at the inauguration of the church Nostra Signora del Cadore (1961)
Children playing at the Eni's Village (1960 circa)
The new ice rink of the Eni's Village (1961)
External of the emporium of the Eni's Village
Enrico Mattei - Trailer

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