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Italy's Eni optimistic about Libyan gas supplies

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm •  Published: March 25, 2014

MILAN (AP) — The CEO of Italian energy company Eni says he's optimistic that Italy has a secure gas supply from Libya in case imports from Russia are hurt by sanctions. But the amounts, analysts warn, are dwarfed by the size of Russian supplies.

Italy and other European countries are assessing their energy supplies amid concerns that imports from Russia might be pinched in the case sanctions between Moscow and Western powers are escalated. For Italy, Libya has been a key source of gas, but the country's production has not recovered fully since its civil war in 2011 due to continuing security issues.

Amid the uncertainty, Paolo Scaroni went to Libya last weekend to assess the situation.

"I wanted to assure myself of the security of the alternative supplies for our country in case the situation worsens" with Russia, Scaroni told Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview published Tuesday.

Scaroni said interim Libyan prime minister, Abdullah al-Thinni, the former defense minister, "made a good impression," and praised him for his handling of internal regional disputes as well as a recent attempt by rebels to illegally sell oil to North Korea.

Scaroni told the Libya Herald in a separate interview that besides interrupting supplies, shutdowns caused by strikes and unrest risk permanently damaging extraction by hurting the geology of the field, which requires natural pressure.

Eni produces gas in Libya used to generate domestic electricity and also for export to Italy via the Greenstream pipeline, which is solely for domestic Italian consumption.

The pipeline's capacity is 9 billion cubic meters a year, but last year less than 6 billion cubic meters were transported due to security issues in Libya, said Nicolo Sartori, an energy expert at Rome's Rome's IAI Institute.

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