Libya Italy gas deal: The Libyan crisis is far from over. The crisis in Libya, which began as a result of a NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, has split the country between two rival administrations in the east and the west. The US recognizes the government of the National Accord, based in Tripoli which controls parts of the country’s west while Russia puts its support behind Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army that controls eastern parts of the country. As Libya heads for a possible election, it is almost certain that Haftar’s faction will gain power. If we analyze the signs, it indicates that another Western power is finally warming up to Haftar and might end up legitimizing the rule of the Libyan leader.
Libya Italy gas deal
As per a report, Libya’s National Oil Corporation has reached an $8-billion deal with Italian energy giant ENI to develop offshore hydrocarbon sites.
The National Oil Corporation of Libya has reached a deal with energy giant of Italy 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, according to NOC head Farhat Bengdara. However, Italian energy giant ENI has declined to comment on the agreement.
Italy has been scrambling to find alternatives to Russian energy and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is also set to visit Tripoli in the coming days.
Likewise, Libya is also hoping to boost its oil production to two billion barrels per day (bpd), up from around 1.2 currently. Though from the periphery Libya Italy gas deal appears just like any other deal carried out between the two countries, however, there’s more to it than what meets the eye.
Meloni extending support to Russia-backed Haftar’s government?
In Libya, the UN-backed government forces have battled rebel commander Khalifa Haftar for control of Libya for months, with foreign powers also wading into the fray. The administration based in Tripoli, headed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh is backed by the West, whereas Haftar is supported by Russia. Apart from Russia, the Libya National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, is also backed by Egypt, France, and the UAE.
Moreover, we have told our readers previously how Haftar has a strong grip over power in Libya and if an election is held in Libya, there’s a possibility of Gaddafi’s son Seif-al-Islam running for President, backed by the Haftar government and also enjoying popular support in the country.
Read More: Haftar calls the shot for “Election opportunity” in Libya
Furthermore, Haftar also has Libya’s oil & gas reserves under his control. The two main Libyan gas extraction fields are located in territories controlled by the Wagner Group, or by its local partners and allies, such as Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in the east of the country. The closure and blockade of oil and gas fields have been almost constant since the beginning of the clashes between the eastern and the Western factions. Occasionally, these oil and gas fields have also been used as a bargaining chip and an element of pressure against the Government of National Unity by Haftar’s faction.
Read More: United States comes up with a new plan to plunder Libyan oil, but Russia won’t allow it
To this point, it can be said that Libya gas deal with Italy can only succeed with Haftar’s blessings. If Italy’s PM Meloni needs Libya’s oil & gas, she will have to pay a price which could be to recognize and give some legitimacy to Haftar’s authority in Libya.
Thus, it is likely that Italy might join Egypt, France, the UAE, and most importantly, Russia in backing Haftar’s regime in Libya. The possibility of such an equation is questionable at present, however, looking at Meloni’s stance on Russia before, this isn’t extremely unlikely either given that she was in favor of better relations with Russia and had also praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin before he launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, one of Meloni’s coalition partners, ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is a long-time friend of Putin who had said earlier in that he had restored his relations with the dictator.
Moving forward, Meloni’s “Russian love” might finally get some clarity in Libya, with Italy joining Russia in backing Haftar in the crisis-torn African country. Furthermore, taking into consideration the current scenario, the Libya Italy gas deal is likely to succeed.
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