Libya-Italy pipeline to re-open soon

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A pipeline pumping Libyan natural gas to Italy should re-open by October 15, the head of Italian energy giant ENI SpA said, adding that he was concerned about supplies for the winter.

"We have set ourselves the target, maybe a bit ambitious, of re-starting by October 15," ENI chief executive Paolo Scaroni, who has met with the Libyan National Transitional Council leadership, said on the sidelines of a conference in northern Italy.

"I'm in quite a hurry to resume supplies through Greenstream because coming up to winter with one of our supply routes shut really worries me," he said.

Scaroni said the October 15 date was "technically realistic" but added that ENI engineers had still not managed to reach a gas compressor station in Mellitah in western Libya, where the 540-km pipeline starts. Greenstream links fields in western Libya to the city of Gela in Sicily.

ENI announced the shutdown of the pipeline on February 22 as a wave of protests in Libya escalated.

The pipeline had been inaugurated in October 2004 by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The pipeline accounted for 11 per cent of Italy's gas imports last year.

Scaroni also said ENI was working together with the National Transitional Council to resume production on several gas fields in Libya.

ENI signed a key agreement with the NTC leadership earlier this week aimed at the rapid resumption of its operations in the energy-rich North African state. ENI is currently the biggest foreign energy producer in Libya.

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