Eni, UniCredit to meet Libyan rebels: sources

Reuters, Saturday 21 May 2011

Discussions will centre on plan to create a new national oil company to get around sanctions, says an Italian newspaper

libya oil
Italian firms try to secure themselves a brighter future in Libya (Photo: Reuters)

Italian oil and gas group Eni SpA and Italian bank UniCredit SpA will meet Libyan rebels to discuss a possible resumption of oil exports to Italy, two sources close to the operation told Reuters.

Eni is the biggest foreign oil company in Libya, producing 270,000 boed (barrels of oil equivalent per day) in 2010. Production has been shut down since Muammar Gaddafi's crackdown on protesters who want to end his four-decade rule.

"There have already been contacts and a meeting in Benghazi is on soon," one source said on condition of anonymity.

Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper said last Saturday that Eni was likely to meet UniCredit and the Libyan rebels in the next few days to discuss a plan to create a new national oil company to get around sanctions. The new company would be funded through a trust fund with a board of international trustees appointed by the United States and Europe alongside Libyans, it said.

A second source confirmed the report, but could not give a date for the meeting.

The Corriere article quoted former Libyan central bank governor Farhat Omar Bengdara as saying the Libyan people needed funds quickly.

Bengdara is deputy chairman of UniCredit. The stakes of Libyan investors in UniCredit have been frozen.

Italy's Industry Minister Paolo Romani said on Thursday on the sidelines of a conference in Ljubljana that he could not confirm the report. Eni and UniCredit declined to comment.

A source told Reuters on Tuesday that Italy has set up a group of government representatives and companies to try to cement ties with the Libyan rebel government and boost trade.

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