Italy, Libya ink $8 billion dollar energy deal
The Italian Prime Minister also discussed during her trip to Libya's capital Tripoli the immigration issue.
Italy's energy giant Eni and Libya's state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) inked an $8 billion gas deal on Saturday, Reuters reported on Sunday.
The deal was sealed during the visit of Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to Libya's capital Tripoli on Saturday, where she met with the head of the National Unity Government Abdel Hamid Dbeibah.
According to the agreement, Eni will develop two offshore gas fields in the North African country that are estimated to produce 750 million cubic feet of gas per day.
"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 Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi.
Read more: Italy's Meloni slams Macron's France for exploiting African children
Earlier this week, NOC announced that it had reached an $8 billion agreement with Eni to develop offshore hydrocarbon sites.
"The combined gas production from the two structures will start in 2026 and reach a plateau of 750 million of standard gas cubic feet per day," Eni said in a statement.
"The project also includes the construction of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility at Mellitah, allowing a significant reduction of the overall carbon footprint," the Italian energy giant added.
Descalzi and NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said that a 25-year gas agreement will be the most significant new energy investment in Libya for that period.
Read more: The West's race for African energy is hypocritical and problematic
Italy, a former colony of Libya, has increased its trade with the African country to a large extent, especially in energy where Italy and EU countries have been scrambling to find alternatives to Russian energy since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Rome also aims to act as an intermediary of energy trade between northern Europe and Africa in the upcoming years, thus they aim to intensify their energy imports from African countries, such as Libya and Algeria, which are two of the most oil-rich African nations.
In that context, Meloni visited Algeria last Monday, another African country the Italian Prime Minister is hoping would secure more diverse imports of energy products, mainly gas, for her country.
On her first visit to Algiers, Meloni met with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and the two energy companies Eni and Algerian Sonatrach signed new agreements.
Algeria supplies Italy with gas through the "Transmad/Enrico Mattei" pipeline, which connects the island of Sicily through Tunisia with a maximum annual transport capacity of 32 billion cubic meters.
Read more: Germany to cooperate on joint gas procurement mechanism: Macron
According to Reuters, "Agreements struck in Tripoli may be undermined by Libya's internal conflict, which has divided the country between rival factions who vie for control of government and dispute each other's claims to political legitimacy."
On that matter, Tripoly's own Oil Minister Mohamed Oun refused to acknowledge any deal between NOC and Italy, adding in a video that these deals must be concluded through the [oil] ministry.
Bengdara, the head of NOC, was appointed last year by Dbeibah, whose own interim government was established in 2021 through a UN-brokered agreement.
Read more: Italy’s PM eyes boosting country's influence in Mediterranean
Since the 2011 NATO-led war on Libya, the country has been split between the two parties that hold two separate bases, one in Tripoli with the recognition of the United Nations and the other in the central city of Sirte.
In statements to the press, Dbeibah and Meloni said they had also discussed illegal immigration from Libya to Italy; a subject that Rome's right-wing leader had made central in her political campaigning during her rise to power.
Italy will support Libya by providing new search and rescue ships, Dbeibah said.
Dbeibah and Meloni, who was accompanied by her Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi who deals with the immigration issues in Italy, said they had discussed illegal migration from Libya to Italy.
Last December, the German NGO European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a formal complaint to The Hague accusing several high-ranking EU and members of state officials of "atrocious crimes committed against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers," an ECCHR executive summary of a Communication to the International Criminal Court read.
Among the suspects include EU’s former foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the Italian Interior Minister at the time of the deal, Marco Minniti, as well as some co-conspirators, namely Meloni's Interior Minister Piantedosi.
The suspects also include Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader who served as Interior Minister in 2018-2019 and his then chief of staff, and Matteo Piantedosi, who is now Interior Minister.
The charges specifically involve EU politicians conspiring with Libyan coastguards by intercepting refugees and preventing them from reaching Europe by sea and forcing them to return to Libya only to be placed in detention camps.
Read more: Europe's Detention Hell-Hole in Libya: Migrants Raped, Tortured, Beaten
Rome will support Tripoli in combating the migrations by supplying Libya with new search and rescue boats, Dbeibah added.
Every year, hundreds of migrants die in the Mediterranean waters while attempting to immigrate from North African countries, including Libya and Tunisia, to the EU, mainly to Spain, Italy, and Greece.