Italy’s Eni has resumed onshore oil and gas exploration activities in Libya, and is being joined by other firms returning to the north African country.

Drilling began on 29 November, according to a statement from Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC). Eni will drill the onshore A1-108/4 discovery well in the Sirte Basin, about 300 kilometres south of the city of Benghazi. It will drill to a target depth of 14,500 feet to test the Alnobian geological layer.

Along with most other oil firms working in the country, Eni declared force majeure following the outbreak of civil war in early 2011. It was the first international company to resume production in September 2011, through its Mellitah Oil & Gas joint venture with NOC.

Eni lifted its force majeure status in Libya in December 2011 and resumed offshore exploration activities in February 2012.

Turkish Petroleum Overseas Company (TPAO) is also planning to move ahead with exploration. The company has asked contractors registered in Libya to submit expressions of interest by 10 January 2013, to support the its planned exploration drilling campaign in its onshore Block-147 concession in the Murzuq basin in Libya.

TPAO signed an exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) in 2000 with NOC for block NC-188 in the Ghadames Basin, block NC-189 in Sirte Basin and block 147/3-4 in 2005.

So far, only Algeria’s Sonatrach International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation (Sipex) has started exploration drilling in its Block-65 acerage in the Ghadames basin, near the Algerian border. The company signed up to drill eight wells in 2007, and plans to spend more than $150m. It will begin testing for the first exploration well at the Block 95/96 concession before the end of December.