* Eni says memorandum to strengthen ties with rebel govt
* Eni, NTC evaluating various forms of cooperation
* Eni is biggest foreign oil producer in Libya
(Releads, adds Eni statement on NTC accord)
By Emma Farge and Stephen Jewkes
BENGHAZI/MILAN, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Italy’s Eni SpA signed a deal with Libya’s rebel government on Monday aimed at quickly restarting its oil and gas operations in the country following concerns it could lose its dominant position to rivals.
Eni was the largest foreign oil producer in the North African country before the civil war and is keen to mend relations with rebel leaders, after hesitant Italian support for the uprising in its early stages.
“The memorandum signed today is confirmation of the solid relations between Eni and the NTC (rebel government) who are evaluating various possible forms of cooperation to ensure the timely resumption of operations in the oil and gas sector,” Eni said in a statement.
The agreement followed a meeting in Benghazi between members of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) and Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni, the first oil chief to visit the country since the rebels took the capital Tripoli.
Scaroni’s trip to the eastern rebel stronghold was widely seen as an effort to secure Eni’s stake in a post-Gaddafi Libya. The country has Africa’s biggest oil reserves and its crude accounts for 13 percent of Eni’s revenue.
Eni said it and the NTC were committed to a fast and complete resumption of Eni’s oil and gas operations.
Under the deal signed on Monday Eni will supply refined oil products to the NTC to meet the immediate needs of the Libyan people.
Scaroni said last week Eni would supply Libya with petrol and diesel fuel from Italian refineries in exchange for “future payments in oil which we will receive when the oil fields have restarted”.
Oil traders said Eni was seeking to book a tanker for arrival in Libya this week.
Eni, in Libya since 1959, produced about 270,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2010. Its oil production contracts are in force to 2042 and gas contracts to 2047.
Eni will provide technical assistance to rebel authorities to assess the damage to energy infrastructure. It is also supplying the NTC with medical equipment. (Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing Richard Mably and David Holmes)