Libya’s oil ministry has kicked the $8 billion oil deal that the Italian energy giant, Eni signed with the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) last weekend. The agreement was signed in the presence of Italian prime minister, Giogia Meloni and her host Abdulhamid Dbeibah, who heads the UN-brokered Government of National Unity, which is contested by a rival administration in the east.

In the query raised by the oil minister, Mohamed Aoun, he posited that the $8billion agreement violated legislation and was not approved by the ministry prior to the signing. 

Eni’s chief executive, Claudio Descalzi and the CEO of the National Oil Corporation of Libya, Farhat Bengdara, had agreed last Saturday on the development of “Structures A&E”, a strategic project aimed at increasing gas production to supply the Libyan domestic market as well as to ensure export to Europe.

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Under the deal, the combined gas production from the two structures will start in 2026 and reach a plateau of 750 million standard gas cubic feet per day, Eni said in a statement. The overall investment is estimated at $8 billion, with a significant impact on the industry and the associated supply chain, allowing a significant contribution to the Libyan economy, the Italian group said.

However, Mohamed Aoun, Libya’s Oil and Gas Minister in the Tripoli-based government led by Al-Dbeibah, rejected the deal because, he says, it bypassed his oil ministry and cabinet approval and changed a previous deal signed in 2008.

Aoun and his supporter Fathi Bashagha, the rival eastern-based prime minister appointed by Libya’s Parliament, have now rejected the deal.

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Aoun said in a video recording seen by Libya Herald the agreement is illegal and lacks equality between Libya and Italy, the oil minister

Libya’s inner political struggle could delay the start of gas flows from the project from Libya to Europe, which has pinned its hopes—especially through Italy—on increased gas supply from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. 

By Bosco Agbo

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