Eni CEO: Libya's Elephant Field Among Gazprom Deal Options

MILAN, April 17, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Eni SpA (E) Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said Thursday that Libya's 'Elephant' oil field is among the asset options offered to Russian OAO Gazprom (GAZP.RS) as part of the accord the two energy companies signed in 2006.

Scaroni made the comment to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Milan.

In November 2006, Eni and Gazprom signed an accord cementing their ties. As part of the deal, Eni was allowed to enter Russia's hydrocarbon market, while Gazprom was free to sell gas directly in Italy. The companies also agreed to swap some of their assets.

Eni, together with Italian utility Enel SpA (ENEL.MI), last year paid a total of $5.83 billion some of the assets of bankrupt Russian company OAO Yukos (YUKO.RS), allowing them to move into the vast hydrocarbon market of the Eastern European country.

Among these assets were gas-producing companies ArcticGaz and Urengoil. The Italian companies gave Gazprom an option to buy a majority stake in the former Yukos assets by April 2009.

"As part of out accord with Gazprom, which has allowed us move into ArcticGaz, we (Eni) pledged to offer Gazprom assets outside of Russia," said Scaroni Thursday.

Eni's CEO said the Libyan government would need to approve the asset swap of the Elephant field as the North African country holds preemptive rights on it.

Italian Prime Minister elect Silvio Berlusconi Thursday said energy will be an issue discussed later in its meetings Thursday and Friday in the Italian island of Sardinia with Russian President Vladimir Putin, reported Italian newswire Ansa.

Putin is flying to Italy after having met the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"There are good possibilities of cooperation in common (energy) projects with Russia through Enel, Eni and other companies," Berlusconi said from Sardinia ahead of meeting Putin.

Berlusconi is scheduled to hold a press conference Friday at around 0900 GMT on its meeting with the Russian president. The two political leaders have a close personal relationship.

Berlusconi recently complained ties between the two countries were weakened during the government of center-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi. Berlusconi won Italy's parliamentary elections Monday after Prodi's government fell in January as it lost its majority in the Senate.

MILAN, April 17, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)