Italy: Libyan Gas Covering Shortages from Russia


On Monday, the Italian Environment Minister, Gilberto Pichetto-Fratin said that Italy had overcome its dependence on Russian gas thanks to African gas coming from Libya and Algeria.

The minister’s remarks came during an interview with the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

He added that “Russia used to account for 40% of our gas needs, but today Italy can import a little over 10%.” He confirmed that Italy “has actually overcome its dependence on Moscow by increasing gas imports from the east via the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) and from Africa thanks to new agreements with Libya and Algeria.”

In January, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) signed an $8 billion deal with Italy’s state-run energy company ENI to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields. This comes as European nations seek to cut their dependence on Russian energy.

ENI will help develop two offshore fields, with production expected set to start in 2026, the company said on 28 January.

The Italian giant estimated the fields could produce about 7.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year, or more than two-thirds of the amount Italy imported from Russia last year.

European nations have been rushing to purchase natural gas from non-Russian sources, including North Africa, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia, the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe prior to the invasion, sharply cut exports to the continent last year. EU officials said this was an attempt to blackmail Brussels into cutting support for Ukraine. Italy had been the second-largest consumer of Russian gas in Europe, after Germany.

The energy cut caused natural gas prices in Europe to skyrocket to record levels, forcing companies and consumers to slash consumption. Prices have since returned to prewar levels amid a warm winter.

The ENI announcement came as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni toured energy-rich North Africa.

Meloni visited Algeria, Italy’s main supplier of natural gas, to sign several memorandums to increase imports starting in the autumn of 2022. That agreement called for up to an additional 9 bcm in 2023-24.

During her visit to Libya, Meloni said Italy wasn’t seeking a “predatory” role but wanted to help African nations “grow and become richer.”

Libya’s exports to Italy have fallen by 5.5 bcm, or two-thirds, since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising overthrew longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, ushering in a period of instability and underinvestment.