Libya to Award 30 Exploration Blocks

Libyan National Oil Company has said it will award 30 new permits for exploration by the second quarter of this year in an effort to increase development of its oilfields. The country is eager to attract foreign cash for its oil sector and has offered over 130 exploration blocks to energy companies since a United Nations ban was lifted in 1999. Companie ssuch as Repsol, OMV, TotalFinaElf and Norsk Hydro are eager to go to work in Libya. However, U.S. companies are banned from activities in the country by a 1986 presidential order signed by President Ronald Reagan.

Six packages have been awarded, the last of which was granted to Repsol last August involving investment of $155 million in the Murzuk oilfield. Ezzedine el Hamyouni, an NOC executive, said negotiations with foreign firms were either at an advanced stage or concluded for over 50 blocks, including the 30 to be awarded by the end of June. He said the 50 require about $700 million of investment.

Libya is also looking to increase production from existing fields and upgrade it existing refineries. "The total of investments needed to upgrade and develop the refineries is about $7.0 billion over the next 10 years. That's why we need to intensify contacts with potential investors among international firms to reach deals over upgrading refineries," said Hamyouni.