ROME - Eni SpA, Italy's biggest energy company by market value, expects unrest to remain in hydrocarbon-rich Libya following the civil war that ousted Col. Muammar Gadhafi in 2011, said Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni Friday, adding he's optimistic that eventually the situation will improve as the North African country embraces democracy.
"The situation [in Libya] remains instable with acts of violence between former Gadhafi supporters and the new people [those that defeated his regime]," said Mr. Scaroni at Eni's shareholders' meeting in Rome to approve 2012 results. "I think it is almost a miracle that they held an election in a country where basically every male adult holds two guns."
Eni is the international oil major with the biggest operations in Libya, which is a former Italian colony. Prior to the Libyan civil war, around 14% of Eni's hydrocarbon production come from the North African country. Eni's Libyan output still hasn't returned to the pre-conflict level.
"I still expect unrest in Libya but I remain optimistic on the democratic path taken," added Mr. Scaroni.
Separately, Eni's CEO also said he wasn't expecting problems to arise in Egypt and Tunisia with elections won by Islamic-inspired parties following the Arab Spring in which the former regimes were swept away.
The Egyptian and Tunisian governments "are very liberalist when it comes to energy issues," said Mr. Scaroni.
Eni's CEO also said he considered the terrorist attack in January at the Is Amenas plant in Algeria as an "exception", as the current political system there is "very strong."
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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