France and Italy will attend a two-day Libya conference in Palermo, Italy as the two European countries compete for the fractured nation’s oil and gas assets.
The meeting in Sicily is meant to bring together key stakeholders (Eni-Total) involved in the ongoing turbulence in Libya.
The North African country, which once prided itself for high standards of living that were paid for by oil exports, remains in chaos seven years after a NATO-backed full sale assault which made it possible to execute long-time leader Muammar Ghaddafi.
Now, there are two external rival governments in Libya and numerous smaller players with various tribal, ideological and political affiliations playing their own games.
Italy traditionally considers its former colony to be within its sphere of influence. France, which briefly occupied the southwestern Fezzan area after World War II, sees this part of Libya as important for the French presence in Central Africa.
The two capitalist regimes are also competing for Libya’s energy reserves, with both Italian Eni and French Total buying additional assets in the country’s struggling oil and gas industry.
Libya remains the holder of the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, and is a major supplier of “super sweet” crude, which is cheaper and easier to refine into petrol products.
Control over oil revenues is a major point of competition between Tripoli and Tobruk, which has to conduct financial transactions through the UN-recognized Central Bank despite controlling physical fields and terminals.
As the event started on Monday, questions remained as to whether it would be attended by Khalifa Haftar, a powerful general allied with the government based in the eastern city of Tobruk.
The Ghadaffi era general controls half of the country and is trying to take the capital Tripoli to achieve legitimacy for his rule.
Sott.net / ABC Flash Point Oil News 2018.