(Recasts lead, adds detail, background)
MILAN, March 24 (Reuters) - The head of Eni has met with Libya’s prime minister to discuss the growing importance of Libyan gas to Italy, as the Ukraine crisis highlights Italy’s reliance on supply from Russia.
Italy imports around 90 percent of its gas needs - more than half of that from Russia. It also imports gas from Algeria, the Netherlands and Libya.
Eni Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni has said Italy’s gas supply structure allows it to overcome any crisis involving any single supplier, but that it would face serious problems if another provider went down.
In a statement on Monday Eni said the key issue discussed in the meeting between Scaroni and Abdallah al-Thinni was the importance of maintaining and increasing Eni’s current production levels in Libya.
“Following the recent evolutions in the international political scene, Eni’s CEO also underlined the growing importance of Libya to Italy’s gas supply security,” it said.
On Friday European leaders said they were determined to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas, accelerating their quest for more secure energy supplies.
State-controlled Eni is the biggest foreign oil and gas company in Libya. It has seen its output and revenues hit by the turmoil there since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi nearly three years ago.
Earlier in March BP said it had mothballed plans to explore in Libya’s Ghadames basin because of security concerns.
Libya’s new prime minister was sworn in earlier this month after parliament voted predecessor Ali Zeidan out of office after rebels humiliated the government by loading crude on a tanker that fled from naval forces.
Eni said it has a current equity production of about 250,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in Libya. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by William Hardy)