Today the Italian premier Giorgia Meloni will be visiting Libya with the foreign ministers Tajani and the interior ministers Piantedosi. The new mission in North Africa has the purpose of advancing the project of transforming Italy into an energy hub of Europe but also to put another piece of that new “Mattei Plan” for Africa, which strengthens the development of those Countries from which migrants disembark on European coasts, and above all Italian ones, are expected to sign a new agreement between ENI and the Libyan NOC for a potential investment of 8 billion dollars in two gas fields A further step in the strategy of diversifying energy sources, with the goal of independence from Russia, which comes after the first bilateral agreement for the premier in Algiers.
What do we know about the visit
The Prime Minister will be in Tripoli for a visit which will end during the day: several institutional meetings which however are frowned upon by the other Libyan executive (not recognized by the international community), the one led by Fathi Bashagha, prime minister appointed by the Chamber of Representatives of Tobruk, close to General Khalifa Haftar. On the eve of Meloni’s visit, Bashagha said he was in fact “surprised” at the meetings on the agenda with an “expired government” such as the one led by Abdul Amid Dbeibah. Piantedosi, head of the Farnesina, in recent days, after another mission to Cairo, announced that Italy expects “three billion cubic meters of gas” from Egypt this year. The Mediterranean, as summarized by the minister and the premier repeated during their trip to Algeria, remains “the central point of Italian foreign policy”. Also to pursue the fight against irregular immigration “with a greater commitment of the countries of origin”, which will also be one of the topics that Rome will put on the table at the next European Council in February. From this point of view, Tajani reiterated, as Meloni did with the Algerian president, that “the stabilization of Libya is crucial, every effort must be made to ensure that there are elections by 2023 in line with the UN mediation that Italy strongly supports”.
On the sidelines of Giorgia Meloni’s visit to Tripoli, a major investment in the gas sector by Eni and the Libyan national oil company “Noc” will be announced. This is a record-breaking operation, unprecedented in the last 25 years. Eight billion dollars, as the president of the NOC, Farhat Bengdara, had anticipated a few days ago, who in the past few hours also underlined that in Libya “the energy sector has not seen an investment of this magnitude for more than a quarter of a century”. The agreement concerns two deposits overlooking the western coast of the country, specified the head of the national company. The ENI-Noc 50/50 joint venture should operate in two exploration areas in a marine block where gas has already been discovered in structures “A” and “E”, about 140 kilometers north-west of Tripoli. The two fields have estimated reserves of 6 trillion cubic feet and will take about three and a half years to develop, Bengdara warned. At the rate of 850 million cubic feet a day, production could go on for 25 years, he predicts: in cubic feet, that’s 8.78 billion a year. Libya is in fifth place in the ranking of African countries with the largest gas reserves. But, even if less than Algerian (through Tunisia), Libyan methane is very close to Sicily: between Mellitah and Gela, the submarine section of the GreenStream gas pipeline is ‘only’ about 520 km long. Built in 2003-2004 by Eni, which owns it together with Noc, the pipeline’s transport capacity to Italy is contractually ‘calibrated’ at six billion cubic meters a year which, with adjustments, could be increased to eight. Margins for increasing Libyan production to contribute to Italy’s liberation from Russian supplies – at the same time realizing the “Mattei Plan” to make Italy the European hub for energy from Africa – seem to exist: two thirds of Libyan gas is needed in fact, to make the country’s power plants work, a fifth feeds industry and only 15% goes into exports.