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Libya Says No Review of ENI Oil and Gas Deals

Source: AFP 1/2/2012, Location: Africa

Libya on Sunday clarified that the review of contracts of Italian oil major ENI signed with the previous regime of Moamer Kadhafi will not involve its oil and gas deals. "To avoid confusion, the ventures to be reviewed and revised are sustainable development projects listed in the memorandum of understanding between ENI and Libya," a statement from the prime minister's office said.

"Oil and gas agreements are not affected" by the review, the statement added. On Thursday, a statement quoting Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib had said that Libya will review its contracts with ENI, triggering reports that the oil and gas deals of the energy major would also fall under the review.

According to that statement, Kib informed ENI Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni that "the contracts signed between ENI and the former regime are going to be reviewed and re-examined to meet Libya's interests before being executed."

Soon after Kib's statement an ENI spokesman told AFP that the contracts Kib's office was talking about were unrelated to the Italian firm's oil production activities. "The two contracts are linked to social initiatives and have nothing to do with oil," the spokesman said.

In December, Scaroni said in Doha it was "unthinkable" that his company's existing contracts would be changed by the new Libyan authorities. But on Thursday Kib said that foreign companies, including ENI, have to prove their loyalty to Libyans by "playing a significant role in the reconstruction of the cities destroyed by Kadhafi's forces."

Kadhafi's ouster has created opportunities for companies hoping to see a redistribution of oil contracts to the benefit of countries which took part in the military campaign to overthrow the long-time dictator, threatening existing contracts. ENI has resumed production of about 70 percent of its pre-conflict output in Libya, of around 200,000 barrels per day.

The company has been in Libya -- a former Italian colony -- since 1959 and is the biggest foreign energy producer in the oil-rich North African country. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is visiting Tripoli on January 21 with the aim of reviving a bilateral friendship treaty, signed by Kadhafi and Monti's predecessor Silvio Berlusconi, that was suspended during this year's conflict in Libya.

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