The agreement was signed in 2008, and changing its terms could render it null and void.
Bashagha and the current oil minister reject a new Eni gas agreement with Libya
Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba's current government in Tripoli, headed by Minister of Oil and Gas Mohamed Aoun, rejected the Eni agreement with Libya that was signed on the same day. He claimed it bypassed his Oil Ministry and cabinet approval and altered a 2008 agreement.
Aoun was supported by Fathi Bashagha, the eastern-based prime minister appointed by Libya's Parliament, the Eastern House of Representatives (HoR). However, in September 2021, the HoR withdrew confidence in the Aldabaiba government and no longer recognized it as Libya's government.
The new agreement between Libya's state National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Italy's energy behemoth Eni aims to invest US$ 8 billion in two Mediterranean gas fields to yield 850 million cubic feet of gas. However, Aoun claimed that the agreement was illegal and that Libya and Italy were not treated equally.
He contended that starting talks with Eni was the incorrect course of action because this matter had already been settled through five committees in 2008, with Aoun serving as the chair of the principal committee and Farhat Bengdara as a member.
In a video recording that Libya Herald watched, he noted that this area was discovered in the 1970s but was not developed due to the Italian side's hesitation and the NOC's lack of follow-up.
According to Aoun, the agreement with Eni specified that their share would initially be 40 percent and then decrease to 30 percent after ten years. The General People's Committee, then-cabinet, Libya's also concurred.
Then he questioned, "Their prescribed share was 30%; how does it become 37% under the new agreement?" He also criticized Libya and the Italian company for sharing investment costs equally. A clear violation of Libya's rights under the new Eni agreement
Aoun emphasized that this agreement is an explicit and apparent violation, as well as a disregard for the rights and wealth that the Libyan state has acquired after protracted negotiations, particularly in light of the increase in gas prices in 2008.
The prime minister of HoR, Fathi Bashagha, declined to change the ownership split between the NOC and Eni in the Mellitah Oil and Gas Company because he believed that any agreement of this nature was illegal and that he would challenge it in court.
Similarly, Hassan Al-Dunali, a legal professional and former NOC advisor, told Libya Herald that Oil and Gas Minister Aoun's objections to the NOC signing the new contract with Eni were improper and incorrect because it was outside of the NOC's purview to do so.
He emphasized, however, that signing new clauses that might contradict the terms of the 2008 25-year agreement, impose new obligations on the Libyan state, or reduce Libya's participation in the previous EPSA agreement—which is still in effect and has a twenty-five-year validity period—are invalid.
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