UK oil major BP, which signed a $2bn exploration deal with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) in 2007, expects to finish its offshore seismic studies by the end of October.

A source close to the company says the offshore work will be completed next month with the larger onshore portion to be finished in the first quarter of 2010.

BP’s acreage, which is split between the offshore Sirte basin and the Ghadames basin near the Tunisian border, is the company’s single largest global exploration award.

Drilling operations are set to start in June 2010.

BP’s seven-year exploration and production agreement, which includes an option for an extension, calls for a minimum exploration commitment of $900m, covering 17 exploration wells, and the acquisition of 30,000 square kilometres of 3D seismic data and 5,500 kilometres of 2D seismic data.

Depending on the level of success upstream, development plans have been drafted for a downstream investment of up to $25bn. This includes pipelines, processing facilities and up to four liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains.