ENI hails 'big success' in Statoil gas deal

ENI chief executive Paolo Scaroni on Friday hailed an initial deal with Norway's Statoil to revise gas supply contracts as "a big success", as the Italian energy major seeks to lower purchasing costs.

"I feel calmer over the chances of keeping the promise made to the market of bringing all gas supply contracts to market prices by 2016," Scaroni was quoted by the Il Sole 24 Ore business daily as saying.

Arbitration proceedings initiated by ENI last year against Statoil over the gas contracts will now be suspended to allow the two sides to formulate a definitive agreement.

It is estimated that the deal would save ENI around 1.0 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in 2014.

The Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv last year reported that ENI was seeking $10 billion from Statoil for being sold natural gas at exorbitant prices.

The newspaper said the previous agreement signed in 1997 had allowed Statoil to bill ENI for prices up to 50 percent higher than market prices.

The practice at the time had been to link gas prices with oil prices in contracts but the former has increased at a much lower rate than the latter.

ENI has already re-negotiated the prices with other major suppliers -- Russia's Gazprom and Algeria's Sonatrach -- the Norwegian newspaper reported.