The Italians come to the North Slope

OK, so Eni has been there for a while, but Alaskan officials are hoping the 2010 “first oil” date for the company’s field will be a sign of more good things to come:

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Eni is one of the “shining stars” of state efforts to encourage a greater diversity of companies working on the North Slope, said Nan Thompson, units manager in the Division of Oil and Gas. Rome-based Eni is a global oil and gas player and one of Italy’s largest companies.

Exploration and production on the North Slope is difficult and expensive, so very few firms are up there. The main ones are BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil, firms that many feel have undue influence over how things get done in Alaska. Other firms have small percentage shares in particular fields, but the only other independent of any heft with its own projects is Dallas-based Pioneer Natural Resources.

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