Among the companies expected to be spun off are National Oil Well Drilling & Workover Company, National Oil Fields & Terminals Catering Company, North Africa Geophysical Exploration Company, Hamada Pipeline Company and Jowf Oil Technology. NOC is also believed to be in talks with a number of European oil companies for the part-
privatisation of Brega Petroleum Marketing Company.

Sources in Tripoli say that Ghanem is also set to bring home’ the London-based Umm al-Jawaby and the Dusseldorf-based Mediterannean Oil Services (Medoil), NOC’s overseas procurement companies established during the sanctions era, to enable the sourcing of oil sector personnel and technology. The accounting operations of the two companies are expected to remain in the UK and Germany.

‘The current structure of NOC was developed through
the sanctions era,’ says one Tripoli-based source. ‘That structure is now out of date. Today, NOC has no business doing things like oil field catering or drilling. What Ghanem wants to do is strip back NOC to focus on its core business of managing the country’s oil and gas reserves.’

In November 2005 in one of his final acts as prime minister Ghanem oversaw a major reshuffle of oil sector personnel, which saw new heads appointed at many of NOC’s oil field-operating companies. The latest initiative comes four months after a cabinet reshuffle that saw Ghanem’s appointment as NOC chairman and the disbanding of the Energy Ministry. Sources in Tripoli say that in June Ghanem sent a letter to all members of the cabinet reminding them that he had sole responsibility for the oil sector and that NOC was the only body empowered to deal with international oil companies.

NOC is preparing to launch its third international exploration licensing round since the lifting of international sanctions in mid-2004. Sources at NOC say the round is likely to take place in early 2007.