Italy concerned over immigration, oil cut amid crisis in Libya

08:48, February 24, 2011      

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As the number of refugees landing on Italian shores continues to rise and Libyan gas supplies to Italy have been cut, the Italian government on Wednesday expressed concerns about the implications of the violence in Libya.

"We are very worried by what is going on in Libya, violence must be stopped at once and we must all be careful to what will happen after the regime change," Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told a press conference in Rome.

Italy currently is asking the European Union (EU) for help on immigration. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Wednesday held an extraordinary summit with his colleagues from France, Spain, Greece, Malta and Cypruss aimed at outlining a roadmap to tackle the immigration emergency in the Mediterranean.

In a joint document to be presented on Thursday to the European Council, the ministers called for a "burden-sharing" approach by the EU through the creation of a "special solidarity fund" for handling the arrivals.

"Italy can deal in the short run with the humanitarian crisis but it cannot face the task alone in the longer perspective," stressed Maroni.

According to local reports, several north European countries have asked Italy to use its airports to evacuate their citizens from Libya.

In a parliamentary hearing on the Libyan crisis, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini talked of "a every serious situation of which outcome is bound to be a blood bath".

On Wednesday almost 800 Italian residents in Libya were urgently evacuated by plane flights, while a warship will be rescuing the remaining 150 living in more troublesome areas where the rebels have taken control.

The government also held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the effects of the Libyan gas cuts, as oil giant Eni was forced to close a pipeline following the unrests.

Italy's high stakes in the Libyan crisis include national safety, energy and trade, Frattini said.

Libyan gas supplies to Italy have been cut and the crisis will cause some 4 billion euros of loss to the Italian infrastructure firms operating in the country, many of which have been forced to close down and repatriate their employees, according to Frattini.

But Italy will be able to tackle long-term cuts thanks to its diversified supply coming from other countries, including Algeria and Russia, he said.

Meanwhile, Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani said Italy had some 5.1 billion cubic meters of strategic stocks to use in case of emergency.

However, local experts fear the long-term impact that the Libyan crisis might have on Italy's energy supply network and endurance.

Source: Xinhua

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