Libya and Italy signed a gas agreement


The giant Italian Eni oil company, and Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) signed a historic agreement on Saturday, during a visit by Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni to Tripoli.

Meloni said in a statement to reporters, “Libya is a priority for Italy, for the stability of the Mediterranean, for Italian security, and for the major challenges facing Europe, such as the energy crisis,” expressing her desire to contribute to ensuring the stability of the political situation in the country.

Meloni’s visit to Tripoli is the first in two years for a European official to the region, and Meloni’s second this week to a country on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, after a visit to Algeria in which she focused particularly on gas supplies to Italy, which is trying to get rid of total dependence on Russian imports.

Meloni attended the signing ceremony between the Eni group and the National Oil Corporation on an agreement to develop two gas fields off the Libyan coast, with investments estimated at eight billion dollars over a period of three years.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, and next to him the head of the National Oil Corporation, Farhat bin Qadara, said that it’s the first major project of its kind in Libya between 20 and 25 years ago.

He stressed that it is a historic agreement that the two parties have been working on for ten years.

Meloni’s visit is the first for a European figure of this level to Libya since her predecessor, Mario Draghi, visited in April 2021.

Meloni was received by the head of the national unity government recognized by the United Nations, Abdul Hamid al Dabaiba.

Libya sank into chaos after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, and a large number of armed groups and foreign mercenaries spread throughout the country on the impact of foreign intervention on the part of Arab countries, as well as Türkiye, Russia and Western countries.

Since March, two governments have competed for power: one based in Tripoli headed by Abdul Hamid al Dabaiba, and the other headed by Fathi Bashagha and supported by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Bashagha considered Meloni’s visit a rejected attempt to revive this dead government by involving the Libyans’ sustenance in such deals, while he criticized what he described as the opportunistic behavior of the Italian government that goes beyond the supreme Libyan interests.

He reminded us of our full readiness to promote the legitimate and fair path towards elections and the stability of the political situation in Libya, Meloni said in Tripoli.

In turn, Abdul Hamid al Dabaiba affirmed, “We trust Italy’s ability to bridge the views of the countries supporting the peace process in Libya”.

The two sides also stressed their determination to deepen bilateral economic relations.

Italy is the first trading partner of Libya, as the volume of mutual trade reached 10.17 billion Euros during the first ten months of the year 2022 (an increase of nearly 76% compared to the same period in the year 2021), according to the Italian Embassy in Tripoli.

Thus, it became the second supplier country to Libya after Türkiye, according to the same source.

Meloni talked about the need to complete the renovation of Tripoli Airport and the resumption of direct flights as soon as possible between the two countries.

In addition to the economic aspect, the immigration file was at the heart of the negotiations, as Italy is directly concerned with the numbers of illegal immigrants arriving on its coasts, Libya.

Meloni also announced a bilateral agreement to do more to counter the flow of illegal immigration from the Libyan coasts, a phenomenon that concerns not only Italy, but also Europe.

The far-right Meloni government assumed its duties in October, and among its electoral promises was to stop illegal immigration to Italy, as the number of arrivals by sea to the country exceeded 105,000 in 2022, according to figures from the Italian Ministry of the Interior.

The Mediterranean is the most dangerous route for migration in the world, according to the International Organization for Migration of the United Nations, which counted the death and loss of 1,377 migrants during this journey in 2022.

Share it...

Leave a Reply