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Gazprom eyes cooperation with Italy’s Eni in Libya

Gazprom is planning to launch operations in Libya with Italy’s oil and gas giant Eni, a senior official at the Russian gas giant told the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Tuesday.

“We have been active in Libya for some time. We have bought a number of assets from Germany’s BASF, and are discussing the agreement for joint cooperation with Eni,” said Alexander Medvedev, deputy chairman of Gazprom’s board of directors. A major deal was closed between Gazprom and Libya’s National Oil Corporation during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country last week. The two companies will set up a joint venture to engage in both upstream and downstream oil and gas operations. At a meeting last Friday with incoming prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Putin said Gazprom expected Eni to offer the Russian gas monopoly potential foreign options as part of the asset swap agreement between the two companies. He also said Gazprom and Eni could also build a gas pipeline in Libya.

Medvedev assured European consumers of the reliability of Russian gas supplies. He added that Gazprom had extended contracts with its major customers in Europe. He also dismissed as “absurd” speculation circulated by Western media that Gazprom could use gas as a political instrument. A dispute over a gas debt and supply scheme between Russia and Ukraine earlier this year led to a brief reduction in shipments to Kiev, sparking concerns among European consumers over possible supply shortfalls similar to those reported at the start of 2006. Ukraine transits about 80% of Russian Europe-bound gas.

Italy’s Eni and Enel acquired natural gas fields in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area (northwest Siberia) in 2007 through liquidation auctions of Russia’s once most powerful oil firm Yukos. Eni also has a 20% stake in Gazprom Neft, Gazprom’s oil arm. (