Libya: “open for business”

Declaring his country “open for business,” a top Libyan oil official has said he expects the state-owned National Oil Corp. (NOC) to offer eight exploratory blocks for bid under its EPSA-4 (exploration and production-sharing agreement) bidding round this summer.
The eight blocks are meant to be a representative sample of what is available onshore and offshore, NOC said. For this round, the blocks include: parcels in the gas-prone western Ghadames basin and in the NE Cyreaica-Botnan basin. Two offshore blocks also will be offered; the remaining onshore acreage will be in the western Murzuq basin and in Sirt, the country’s central region. NOC officials anticipate keen interest from US majors and large independents, which for the first time in nearly two decades will be allowed to cut deals.
NOC said it sees creating a gas export business as a top priority. It is interested in building an LNG plant and is planning to extend its gas pipeline network east to Egypt and west to Tunisia as fields come online. It also plans on using gas for enhanced oil recovery, petrochemical production, and cement, steel, and electric power plants. To that end, NOC said it wants to invest USD 10 billion in its downstream sector; about USD 4 billion of that would be earmarked to upgrade and expand five existing refineries. NOC also wants to build a new facility at Sebha. Current total refinery capacity is 380,000 b/d, with most of that production used domestically. NOC said it is also might designate the 220,000 b/d refinery complex at Ras Lanuf as a “free trade zone.” This summer, bidding will be on a single block basis per agreement but multiblock rounds will not be dismissed. Hassan-Beck declined to spell out specific terms of the new EPSA although in road terms he said that a minimum exploration program would be “predetermined” for each block.

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