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Enrico Mattei

Biography

Biografia

Enrico Mattei is born in Acqualagna, in the province of Pesaro, on 29 April 1906. He is the second of his father Antonio and mother Angela Galvani’s five children. The family is of modest means: his father, a sergeant in the Carabinieri. With Antonio’s promotion to warrant officer, the Mattei family moves to Matelica in province of Macerata.

After infant school Enrico goes to a boarding school in Vasto, enrolling as a student in the technical middle school. The family straightened circumstances and his father’s rigid discipline make him eager to leave home and win his economic independence.

Enrico’s father finds him a job in a bed-making factory in Scuriatti. His first task is to smooth the metal for the bed frames with sandpaper; on 1923 he becomes an apprentice at the Fiore tannery in Matelica. Mattei’s career at the tannery is meteoric. He is promoted from factory hand to chemical assistant and then to laboratory chief at the age of only twenty. He also manages to set up a fabric shop for his mother. After military service he returns to Matelica and becomes the tannery owner’s chief assistant.

They soon begin to feel the effects of the general economic crisis and business goes from bad to worse. The Fiore tannery closes.

Mattei moves to Milan, instead he develops his business by setting up his first factory in Milan with his brother and sister. The small workshop produces oil-based emulsifiers for the tanning and textile industries. In 1934 he sets up Industria Chimica Lombarda.

He marries Greta Paulas, in Vienna on 1936.

Mattei gets an accountancy qualification and enrols at the Catholic University. In May 1943 he meets Giuseppe Spataro, who introduces him into anti-Fascist circles in Milan. After 25 July he and Boldrini join partisan groups in the mountains around Matelica.

Back to Milan he resumes contact with the local Christian Democrats. Impressed by organisational and military skills, they put him in command of their Freedom Volunteer Corps. In 1944 a North Italian military command of the CLNAI is set up, in which Mattei participates on behalf of the Christian Democrats.

In the uncertain period immediately after the civil war in Italy, Enrico Mattei was given the task of winding up Agip’s affairs and arranging for most of its energy assets to be privatised. He chose to disregard this instruction, seeking instead to achieve what he saw as the fundamental objective of giving Italy its own national oil and gas company to meet the energy needs of households and SMEs at prices significantly lower than those charged by the international oligopolies.

Mattei doubled drilling and made the most of mineral research in the Po Valley, building the alliances necessary, inside the government and the parties, to ensure his goals were reached. After long and tortuous negotiations that had begun in 1947 - among those who wanted to defend private enterprise and those who dreamed of a significant role for the state in the management of the economy - with the creation, in 1953 of Eni, Mattei managed to establish the strategic nature of energy for Italian economic growth and to inspire confidence in the possible miracle of energy independence. On 27 October, 1962 Mattei’s Morane Saulnier 760 crashes at Bascapè in the province of Pavia as it flies from Catania to Milan Linate. Mattei, the pilot Irnerio Bertuzzi and the American journalist William McHale are killed.

Sources 

AGIP, 70 anni di storia,  Roma 1995

AGIP, Storia dell'Agip (1936-1948)

AGIP, Mattei e l'Agip. Un album di famiglia, 1986

M. BOLDRINI, Enrico Mattei, Enciclopedia del petrolio 

M. COLITTI, Energia e sviluppo in Italia. La vicenda di Enrico Mattei, De Donato, Bari 1979

M. COLITTI, Enrico Mattei, Il Parlamento italiano 

M. MAGINI, L'Italia e il petrolio tra storia e cronologia, Mondadori

C. MOFFA, Enrico Mattei. Contro l'arrembaggio al petrolio e al metano. Una vita per l'indipendenza e lo sviluppo dell'Italia, del Medio Oriente e dell'Africa, Aracne, Roma 2006-03-06

I. MONTANELLI, Stampa e oro nero, vol. XXXV, Il Gatto Selvatico, Roma 1963

I. PIETRA, Mattei. La pecora nera, SugarCo, Milano 1987

A. TRECCIOLA (ed.), Enrico Mattei, 1945-1953. Scritti e discorsi, pubblicato a cura della Città di Matelica 1982

 

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