The Italian government said it overturned a ban on offshore oil and natural gas development that was enacted after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The measure lifts restrictions on exploration licenses for work within 5 miles of the Italian coast and within 12 miles of protected coastal areas.
Energy company Mediterranean Oil and Gas had planned to start work on the Ombrina Mare offshore field. Chief Executive Officer Bill Higgs was quoted by energy news Web site Rigzone as saying the easing of restrictions was a positive step for offshore development.
"Being able to continue with the development of the Ombrina Mare field is of strategic importance to the company and a very positive step for both the company and for the local economy," he said.
The company estimated the field contains at least 40 million barrels of oil and 6.5 million cubic feet of natural gas.
The Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico led to a universal review of the safety of offshore oil and natural gas development. The Italian government enacted the ban four months after the spill in 2010.
The Italian government sent the measure onto Parliament for ratification within 60 days.