Eni chief visits Tripoli, aims to restart pipeline

AP News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 3:55 PM
Eni chief visits Tripoli, aims to restart pipeline

The chief executive of Italian oil and gas giant Eni visited Tripoli on Monday to lay the groundwork for relaunching gas exports to Italy via the Greenstream pipeline, the company said.

CEO Paolo Scaroni said his meeting with representatives of Libya's National Transitional Council and the National Oil Company marked the first such international corporate meeting in the Libyan capital since the popular uprising that overthrew Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Scaroni has set Oct. 15 as an admittedly "ambitious" deadline to resume the natural gas flow from Libya to Italy via the Greenstream pipeline, which can carry roughly 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. It hasn't been operational since late February.

The roughly 310-mile (520-kilometer) pipeline runs from Mellitah, Libya to Sicily.

In a statement, Eni said Scaroni visited local staff at Eni's Tripoli offices to discuss restarting oil and gas production and establish "the necessary measures to recover exports" via Greenstream.

Scaroni went to Benghazi on Aug. 29 to sign an agreement with the former rebels to restart Greenstream and help assess the country's oil infrastructure. Four other international energy companies have also resumed a presence in Libya, the transitional council has said.

"Our priority is the quick recovery of Libyan gas export towards Italy, aiming to guarantee Italy with the security of supplies," Scaroni was quoted as saying. He has previously expressed concern about getting the supply to Italy resumed before winter. Italy also obtains gas from Tunisia and Russia via Ukraine.

Before the protests against Gadhafi in mid-February morphed into a full-scale civil war, Eni was producing 273,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in Libya, which sits atop Africa's largest proven reserves of conventional crude.