ROME/TRIPOLI, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Italian energy company Eni and Libya’s national oil company (NOC) on Saturday decided to cut energy supplies to Europe despite the country’s instability and political turmoil in North Africa. It has signed an $8 billion gas production contract with the aim of increasing it.
The deal, signed during a visit to Tripoli by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, aims to increase gas production for the Libyan domestic market and for export through the development of two offshore gas fields.
Production will begin in 2026 and reach a steady state of 750 million cubic feet per day, Eni said in a statement.
“This agreement will enable significant investment in Libya’s energy sector, contributing to regional development and job creation, while strengthening Eni’s role as the country’s leading operator.
Meloni, Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, head of the internationally recognized Government of National Unity (GNU), met in Tripoli and also focused on trans-Mediterranean migration. .
At a joint press conference with DESCALZI, NOC Director Farhat Bengdara said the gas deal, with a 25-year term, was the most significant new investment in Libya’s energy sector in a quarter century.
European countries have increasingly sought to replace Russian gas with energy supplies from North Africa and elsewhere over the past year because of the war in Ukraine.
Italy has already taken the lead in sourcing gas from Algeria and is forging a new strategic partnership that includes an investment by state energy company Sonatrach to reverse years of declining production.
But the deal made in Tripoli could be undermined by internal conflicts in Libya. The conflict divides the country between rival factions vying for control of the government, challenging each other’s claims to political legitimacy.
Highlighting uncertainties, Dbeibah’s own Oil Minister Mohamed Oun rejected any deal the NOC could conclude with Italy, saying in a video on the ministry’s website that such an agreement should be made by the ministry. said it was.
Eni’s Descalzi said the agreement also includes a carbon capture facility and solar power.
NOC head Bengdara was appointed last year by Dbeibah, who will set up his own transitional government in 2021 through a process supported by the United Nations.
Earlier last year, the eastern-based parliament and the factions that support it rejected both Bendala’s appointment and the deals Tripoli had struck with foreign countries, saying the government was no longer legal.
Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s chaos has left much of the country in the hands of militants.
In a statement to the press, Dubeiva and Meloni said they also discussed illegal immigration from Libya to Italy.
Italy will help Libya by providing a new search and rescue vessel, Dubeiba said.
Insecurity and lawlessness make Libya a major, albeit dangerous, route for migrants trying to reach Europe, often via Italy. Hundreds of migrants die each year trying to travel.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, who oversees immigration issues to Rome, accompanied Meloni and Foreign Minister Antonio Tagjani to Libya.
Reported by Ayman al-Warfali of Libya and Gavin Jones of Rome. Additional reporting of Cairo by Ahmed Tolba and his Enas Alashray. Written by Angus McDowall and Gavin Jones.Edited by Clelia Ogiel
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