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Libya oil minister: New gas deal with Italy is unlawful 

January 30, 2023 at 9:31 am

Libya’s Oil Minister Mohammed Aoun gestures during an interview in the capital Tripoli, on April 28, 2022 [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images]

The Libyan Oil and Gas Minister in the internationally-recognised government, Mohamed Oun has criticised the agreement signed between the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Italian energy company Eni saying it was “illegal” since the NOC did not consult with his ministry before inking the deal, Anadolu reported.

On Saturday, during a visit to Tripoli by Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Eni signed an $8 billion gas production deal with the NOC aimed at boosting energy supplies to Europe.

However, the Libyan oil ministry issued a statement on Sunday saying the deal “completely violates” the law and the law establishing the corporation itself which requires prior approval from the Ministry of Oil and Gas to raise the share of a foreign partner, which in turn refers the decision to the Council of Ministers.

The ministry called on the head of the NOC to follow the legal mechanisms and refer the technical and economic justifications for concluding the deal to the Ministry of Oil.

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“The Corporation’s unilateral decision to amend the agreements paves the way for other partners to make any amendment to previously agreed upon agreements without following the procedures and legislation stipulated in Libyan law,” it added.

Saturday’s deal aims to increase gas output for the Libyan domestic market as well as exports through the development of two offshore gas fields. Output will begin in 2026 and reach a plateau of 750 million cubic feet per day, Eni said in a statement as reported by Reuters.

For her part, Meloni described the deal as “big and historic” and added that it would help Europe secure energy sources.

“It is clear that Libya is a strategic economic partner for us,” she added, according to the Associated Press.

In 2022, Libya exported 2.63 billion cubic metres of gas to Italy through the Green Stream pipeline; far below the annual levels of eight billion cubic metres exported before the crisis in 2011.