Eni SpA is set to push ahead a potential investment of $8 billion in two natural gas fields in Libya, according to the North African country’s state energy firm, as Italy steps up efforts to wean itself off Russian supplies.
The Rome-based company will sign a deal with Libya’s National Oil Corp. in Tripoli this weekend, NOC Chairman Farhat Bengdara told a local television channel. The fields, located offshore in the Mediterranean, will probably be able to pump 850 million cubic feet of gas a day, he said.
Eni declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.
Libya already sends gas to Italy via the Green Stream pipeline, though it’s not at full capacity.
Eni is also looking to invest more in gas in Algeria and Egypt. Its chief executive officer, Claudio Descalzi, traveled to Algiers this week along with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Libya has some of Africa’s biggest oil and gas reserves and its close proximity to Europe could make it one of the continent’s biggest energy suppliers. Yet Libya’s exports have long been hindered by conflict.
The country was thrown into chaos and civil war after Moammar Qaddafi was deposed in 2011. Petroleum production was highly volatile — at time plunging almost to zero — until a ceasefire in mid-2020 led to more stability at oil and gas fields and ports.
The political situation remains tense and two rival governments claim power. One is based in Tripoli, while the other is located in Sirte.
Eni’s investment would be the largest in Libya for years. The company, which has operated in Libya since the 1950s, has said it wants to push ahead with oil, gas and solar investments there.
Libya’s extracting 1.5 billion cubic feet a day of gas and plans to increase that to 4 billion, Bengdara said in the TV interview. It aims to boost oil output to 2 million barrels a day from 1.26 million within three to five years, he said.
--With assistance from Alberto Brambilla.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.