Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is preparing to visit Libya in an effort to secure more oil and gas supplies from North Africa.
Ms. Meloni is expected to travel to the capital Tripoli as early as Saturday, Bloomberg reported.
The trip is not confirmed and may be delayed or canceled due to security concerns, sources told the news agency.
The visit came as Libya’s National Oil Corporation signed an $8 billion gas exploration and production deal with Italy’s Eni.
Libya, OPEC’s seventh-largest crude oil producer, has been seeking to boost production after being plagued by conflict and political instability.
NOC plans to increase oil production to 2.1 million barrels per day by 2025.
To achieve this goal, it aims to develop new projects to rehabilitate oil fields damaged during the conflict and increase energy supply to the region.
Faced with declining Russian exports, Europe is scrambling to secure alternative sources of natural gas.
The European Union could cut up to 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas this year if Russian output drops to zero and China’s liquefied natural gas imports return to 2021 levels, the International Energy Agency said in a report last month.
Eni this week signed agreements with Algerian state energy company Sonatrach to explore opportunities in renewable energy, green hydrogen and carbon dioxide capture and storage projects.
The companies will carry out studies to “identify possible measures” to improve Algeria’s energy export capacity to Europe.
Eni’s CEO, Claudio Descalzi, said in an earlier statement: “These agreements testify to our commitment to ensure Italy’s security of supply while at the same time achieving our decarbonisation objective.”
“The cooperation between Italy and Algeria continues to strengthen today and the key role of Algeria as one of Europe’s main energy suppliers is confirmed.”
Last year, Eni and Sonatrach signed an agreement allowing the Italians to ship an additional 9 billion cubic meters of gas through the Transmed pipeline, which runs through Tunisia to Italy.
With a production of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, Eni is one of the largest oil and gas companies operating in Algeria.
Natural gas, an important energy source in Italy, accounts for about half of the country’s electricity generation.
OPEC member Algeria relies heavily on oil and gas, accounting for 19 percent of GDP, 93 percent of exports and 38 percent of budget revenue between 2016 and 2021, according to World Bank estimates.
The country is Africa’s largest gas exporter and supplies 11 percent of Europe’s natural gas.
Source: National News