LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Libya's National Oil Corp (NOC) is interested in buying Marathon Oil's stake in one of the North African country's most important joint ventures, Oil Minister Abdelbari Arusi has said.
U.S. oil firm Marathon is considering the possible sale of its stake in Libya's Waha Oil Company, which has capacity of 350,000 barrels per day and produces Libya's main light sweet crude grade, sources told Reuters in July.
"Regarding Marathon, yes, we're interested to buy the stake," Arusi said at a conference in London on Wednesday, confirming Marathon was planning to sell its stake.
He said Libya would discuss a potential deal with Marathon, though other firms were also interested.
Industry sources have said a sale would be difficult because the project required investment, terms in Libya were tough and political unrest since the 2011 war had brought repeated and prolonged disruptions to production.
A mix of striking workers, militias and political activists have blocked Libya's oil ports for more than two months, resulting, according to Arusi, in more than $5 billion in lost revenues for the OPEC members whose budget relies on oil.
In the first quarter, production from Libya accounted for about 7 percent of Marathon's total output. But Libya has been struggling to maintain production levels following the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Hess Corp and ConocoPhillips along with the NOC, are the other two partners in Waha. Asked by Reuters what it planned to do with its stake, Conoco declined to comment. There was no immediate comment from Marathon or Hess.
The likely departure of Marathon and other foreign investors like Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell has spurred Libya to revise its tough exploration and production terms.
Arusi said Libya was reviewing terms for existing investors as well as easing them in the next round of licensing, which he expected to be announced in the first half of 2014.
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