Tsvetana Paraskova

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is expected to travel to Libya on Saturday to discuss more oil and natural gas supply from the North African country, Italian media  report.

Libya’s state energy firm, for its part, said it expected to sign even more deals with foreign companies after the $8B gas deal signed with Eni.

During Meloni’s visit to Tripoli, Italian energy major Eni and Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) are expected to sign an agreement on investment from Eni in Libya’s gas supply, according to various reports.

Eni and NOC could sign on Saturday an $8 billion deal to produce gas from the Mediterranean, NOC chairman Farhat Bengdara said on a television channel earlier this week.

It is expected that Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi will travel to Libya to sign the agreement, an Italian source told Reuters.

Descalzi and NOC’s Bengdara met last August in Rome, where Descalzi “expressed the willingness to launch a new phase of investments aimed at increasing the gas output of the Country,” Eni said at the time.

Descalzi and Italy’s PM Meloni have just returned from a trip to another North African country, Algeria, as part of a wider Italian push to secure more energy supplies for Italy and for Europe from North Africa.

Eni and Algerian state oil and gas firm Sonatrach signed an agreement earlier this week to identify possible measures to improve Algeria’s energy export capacity to Europe, identify renewable energy development projects, and reduce emissions.

The partnership between Italy and Algeria gets stronger today, and Algeria’s key role as one of Europe’s main energy suppliers is confirmed,” Eni’s Descalzi said after the signing of the agreements witnessed by Italy’s Meloni and Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Earlier this month, Descalzi told the Financial Times that Europe should look to Africa for a “south-north” energy axis that would deliver gas from Africa to the EU, which is scrambling to replace Russian pipeline supply.

Eni is a major player in many African countries and has signed several agreements to boost gas supply from Africa to Europe since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the slump in Russia’s gas deliveries via pipeline.


Tsvetana Paraskova is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 


Italy’s Eni signs $8bn gas deal with Libya amid energy crunch

The energy agreement, signed during Italian PM Meloni’s visit to Tripoli, seeks to boost Libya’s gas output through new offshore gas fields.

Italian energy company Eni and Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) signed an $8bn gas production deal aimed at boosting energy supplies to Europe despite the insecurity and political chaos in the North African country.

The agreement, signed on Saturday during a visit to the capital Tripoli by Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, aimed to increase gas output for the Libyan domestic market, as well as exports through the development of two offshore gas fields.

Output will begin in 2026 and reach a plateau of 21 million cubic metres (750 million cubic feet) per day, Eni said in a statement. “This agreement will enable important investments in Libya’s energy sector, contributing to local development and job creation while strengthening Eni’s role as a leading operator in the country,” said its Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi.

During her visit, Meloni met Libya’s Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, head of the internationally recognised Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli, for talks that also focused on migration across the Mediterranean.

Taking the lead

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 a lead in sourcing gas from Algeria, building a new strategic partnership there that includes investment to help state energy company Sonatrach reverse years of declining output.

National Oil Corporation head Farhat Bengdara called the 25-year agreement the most important new investment in Libya’s energy sector for a quarter of a century.

However, deals struck in Tripoli may be undermined by Libya’s internal conflict, which has divided the country between rival factions who vie for control of the government and dispute each other’s claims to political legitimacy.

Underscoring the uncertainty, Dbeibah’s own Oil Minister Mohamed Oun had rejected any deal that NOC might strike with Italy, saying in a video on the ministry website such agreements should be made by the ministry.

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 does not seek a “predatory” role but wants to help African nations “grow and become richer”.

Instability, increased domestic demand and underinvestment has hampered Libya’s gas deliveries abroad, according to Matteo Villa of the Milan-based ISPI think tank. New deals “are important in terms of image”, Villa said.


Bengdara was appointed last year by Dbeibah, whose own interim government was installed in 2021 through a UN-backed process.

The eastern-based parliament and factions that support it said early last year the government was no longer legitimate, rejecting both the appointment of Bengdara and deals that Tripoli has struck with foreign states.

Chaos in Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew leader Muammar Gaddafi has left much of the country in the hands of armed factions. A small Italian military mission has been deployed in Libya for several years.

Dbeibah and Meloni said they also discussed the issue of illegal migration from Libya to Italy. Rome will support Libya by providing new search and rescue ships, Dbeibah said.

Insecurity and lawlessness has made Libya a major, but dangerous, route for refugees seeking to reach Europe, often via the Italian island of Lampedusa. Hundreds of refugees die each year attempting to make the journey.

Meloni has made tackling illegal migration a major plank of her governing agenda, and she has pushed the issue in recent visits to Algeria and Egypt.

Italy’s prime minister needs to show “some kind of a step up compared to her predecessor in terms of migration and energy policy in Libya”, said Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya expert and an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

[But] it will be difficult to improve upon Rome’s existing western Libya tactics, which have been chugging along,” Harchaoui said.



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