Giorgia Meloni visits Tripoli as Libya signs $8bn gas exploration deal with Eni

Giorgia Meloni in the Libyan capital Tripoli
Giorgia Meloni in the Libyan capital Tripoli Copyright Yousef Murad/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Yousef Murad/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni extended a hand of friendship to Tripoli while also helping to secure her country's energy security. Italian energy giant signed an $8bn gas exploration contract with Libya's state energy company during the visit.

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Italy’s prime minister held talks in Libya on Saturday with officials from the country’s Tripoli-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union.

During the visit, the two countries' oil companies signed a gas deal worth $8 billion

(€7.36bn), the largest single investment in Libya’s energy sector in more than two decades.

Libya is the second North African country that Premier Giorgia Meloni, three months in office, visited this week. She is seeking to secure new supplies of natural gas to replace Russian energy amid Moscow's war on Ukraine. She previously visited Algeria, which has become Italy’s number one energy supplier since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Meloni landed at the Mitiga airport, the only functioning airport in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, amid tight security, accompanied by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, her office said. She met with Abdel Hamid Dbeibah, who heads one of Libya’s rival administrations, and held talks with Mohamed Younis Menfi, who chairs Libya’s ceremonial presidential council.

At a round-table with Dbeibah, Meloni repeated her remarks from Algeria, saying that while Italy wants to increase its profile in the region, it doesn’t seek a “predatory” role but wants to help African nations “grow and become richer.”

$8bn deal to develop Libya's offshore gas

During the visit, Claudio Descalzi, the CEO of Italy’s state-run energy company, ENI, signed an $8 billion deal with Libya’s National Oil Corporation to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields. NOC's chairman Farhat Bengdara also signed.

The agreement involves developing two offshore fields in Block NC-41, north of Libya and ENI said they would start pumping gas in 2026, and estimated to reach 750 million cubic feet per day, the Italian firm said in a statement.

Meloni, who attended the signing ceremony, called the deal “significant and historic” and said it will help Europe securing energy sources.

“Libya is clearly for us a strategic economic partner,”Meloni said.

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