Friday, May 11, 2012 -
Italian energy firm Eni SpA’s chief executive said Thursday he is unperturbed by the investigation swirling around the oil and gas giant for alleged graft in Kazakhstan.
“I’m calm,” Paolo Scaroni, who heads state-controlled Eni, told journalists in Rome, the Reuters news agency reported.
Prosecutors in the northern Italian city of Milan have called on an Italian court to either place Eni’s Kazakh unit Agip KCO under special administration or bar the firm from negotiating contracts related to Kazakhstan.
A number of current Eni managers are under investigation for corrupt practices in Kazakhstan, although Scaroni is not one of them. Specific details have not been revealed.
Scaroni said "it's an investigation which concerns episodes from 2004, 2005 and we've been cooperating with it since 2009 and we're waiting to see what happens."
Media outlets speculated that the judicial probe may throttle or put a complete stop to Eni’s sizeable investment in the supergiant Kashagan Central Asia’s largest oil and gas fields, namely the supergiant Kashagan oil field and Karachaganak primarily gas project.
A Kazakh official from the country’s oil and gas ministry said whatever the outcome of the Italian investigation, Kazakhstan will proceed to develop the offshore Kashagan field, the world’s largest oil discovery in four decades.
The ministry’s executive secretary, Kanatbek Safinov, suggested the Italian probe might be looking into a struggle for control between the Kashagan partners.
Any impact from the investigation "will affect Eni's management and that's all. If there are any criminal doings, it will be their responsibility," Reuters reported Safinov as saying.
The consortium comprises Total, Agip, ExxonMobil, Shell, and KazMunaiGas (KMG) with each holding 16.81 percent stakes of the project. ConocoPhillips has an 8.4 percent participation and Japan’s Inpex Holdings has 7.56 percent.
The Italian court will decide what possible measures it may take at a hearing scheduled for May 29.