Italy brushes off Gaddafi's oil cooperation bar

13:39, July 15, 2011      

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In this photo taken on a government-organized tour, Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, left, and Oil Minister Omran Bokraa listen during a press conference at the Oil Ministry in Tripoli, Libya, July 14, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

The government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday halted all cooperation with Italian energy giant ENI over Italy's role in the NATO-led mission in Libya, but the move triggered an impassive reaction from Rome.

Neither the political and institutional stage nor ENI itself showed any great concerns following Gaddafi's prime minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi's earlier announcement to bar Italy from its oil sector and instead open up to other foreign oil companies, local media reported.

ENI's shares remained fairly stable on Italy's stock market on Thursday, despite the recent financial turmoil which have rocked the country.

Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani simply replied that the regime was already de-legitimized by the international community.

"I have the impression that Gaddafi's government is not representative of the real situation in Libya anymore nor of the will of the Libyan people," Romani said on the sidelines of a parliamentary session.

Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini dubbed Al-Mahmoudi's proclamation as a sort of defiance.

"It is Italy that does not want and can not sign any agreement with Tripoli's government because there's an embargo," he stressed.

Local analysts said Wednesday's bar against Italy by the Gaddafi regime was a mere natural reaction against an one-time ally which has now been actively involved in the NATO-led operations against it.

But the move would have zero impact on ENI's activities and would make little change, since all oil and gas imports from Libya have been blocked since February when the United Nations imposed an embargo, they said.

Since then, ENI's production had practically stopped, with the sole exception of a few thousands of barrels produced for the functioning of the Libyan power plants.

Experts however agreed that the outlook and the impact on ENI would change if Gaddafi were to stay in power.

ENI is the first foreign oil company operating in Libya since 1950. In 2010, Libyan oil accounted for about 11 percent of Italian energy consumption.

Source: Xinhua

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