Libya’s National Oil Corporation said Wednesday (Jan. 25) it had reached an $8-billion deal with Italian energy giant ENI to develop offshore hydrocarbon sites.
"We have reached a deal with ENI to develop the oil and gas sector, by developing two offshore sites which together will be able to produce 850 million cubic feet of gas” per day, NOC head Farhat Bengdara told Al-Masar, a Libyan news channel.
The $8 billion deal would be signed on Saturday at an official ceremony, he said.
Asked by AFP to confirm or deny the agreement, ENI declined to comment.
Italy has been scrambling to find alternatives to Russian energy since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is set to visit Tripoli in the coming days, according to media reports both sides of the Mediterranean.
Libya sits atop Africa’s biggest oil reserves but has been engulfed by conflict since the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi.
Control of oil resources, infrastructure and revenues has been a key driver of the long-running conflict, involving multiple foreign powers and a myriad of militias.
Since March last year, two governments have been vying for power — one in the western capital Tripoli and one in the country’s east, backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
In December, the NOC called on foreign companies in the hydrocarbons sector to resume their activities, saying it had evaluated the security situation and noting a "spectacular improvement" at certain sites where security issues had made it difficult to operate.
Libya is hoping to boost its oil production to two billion barrels per day (bpd), up from around 1.2 currently.