As part of the agreement, signed under Libya’s EPSA IV framework, the consortium will carry out 2,000 square kilometres of 2D seismic, 2,600 square kilometres of 3D seismic and drill eight exploration wells over a five-year period.

The consortium won the exploration and production rights for the block, which covers an area of nearly 7,000 square kilometres, during Libya’s fourth oil and gas licensing round last December (MEED 9:12:07).

Sipex, the overseas exploration arm of state energy company Sonatrach, already has exploration and production assets in Libya. It won won block 65, also in the Ghadames basin, in early 2005.

Libya opened up its hydrocarbons sector to foreign investment in late 2003 after more than 20 years of international sanctions. It is hoping to increase oil production by more than 40 per cent to three million b/d by 2013.