Libya’s abundant oil and gas reserves, which are among the largest in Africa, could make it a key energy supplier to Europe due to its proximity. Yet Libya’s gas exports have been held back by political chaos for most of the period since the downfall of late Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011.
“The energy sector has not witnessed an investment of this magnitude for more than a quarter of a century,” Farhat Bengdara, the Chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), said to Bloomberg.
It is “a clear message to the international business community that the Libyan state has passed the stage of political risks.”
The NOC is negotiating investments in reservoirs and in energy infrastructure such as oil pipelines with other firms, he said.
Eni and the NOC are set to sign an agreement today in Tripoli that will lead to the development of two gas fields off Libya’s western coast.
Notably, Italy’s Prime Minister, Georgia Meloni, is set to visit Libya today along with Tajani, and Interior Minister, Matteo Piantedosi.
During her visit, the Italian Prime Minister will hold talks with senior Libyan officials, including her counterpart Abdelhamid Al-Dbaiba. In addition to witnessing the signing of an agreement worth eight billion dollars between Italian energy giant Eni and Libya’s NOC.
Saturday’s visit comes at the conclusion of a set of trips to North Africa, within the scope of that Pact for the Mediterranean. In order to involve the countries most directly interested in the stabilisation of Libya, contain the migratory flows, and guarantee greater gas supplies to Italy and Europe, as an alternative to those from Russia.
Meanwhile, the Libyan Prime Minister-designate Fathi Bashagha denounced Meloni’s anticipated visit to Libya. He said he was “surprised” by Meloni’s meeting with “a government whose mandate has expired and which therefore no longer has any legitimacy.”
The Prime Minister spoke of a “mysterious” agreement in the oil sector between Eni and the NOC. He warned that “the Libyan State will not accept any agreement with suspicious purpose and result”, threatening to “resort to the judiciary.”
Libya’s current political stalemate grew from the failure to hold elections in December 2021 and Prime Minister Abdelhamid Al-Dbaiba’s refusal to step down. In response, the country’s eastern-based Parliament appointed Fathi Bashagha, who has sought to install his government in Tripoli for months.
The protracted stand-off between the two governments led to bouts of clashes in Tripoli last year, risking the return of civil war to the oil-rich nation after months of relative calm.
The North African nation has plunged into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya has been virtually ruled by a set of rival militias and armed groups in the East and West.