Libya’s Energy Cities Development Company (ECDCO) is in talks with potential investors to resurrect its planned $54bn scheme to turn the Gulf of Sirte in the east of the country into an industrial and energy hub.

ECDCO plans to develop Energy Cities near the Brega and Ras Lanuf refineries, providing infrastructure for downstream industries. At Brega, this will include a 350,000 barrel-a-day (b/d) refinery producing petrochemicals, such as olefins and aromatics, as well as a new port with a throughput capacity of 19,000 tonnes a year.  

Launched more than three years ago, the scheme has faced numerous problems and has so far failed to get beyond the planning stage.

Formerly owned by Bahrain’s Gulf Finance House and Libya’s Economic and Social Development Fund (ESDF), the ownership of the Tripoli-headquartered firm has been transferred to the Libyan Local Investment and Development Fund, which is itself owned by the Libyan Central Bank and Libyan Investment Authority.

According to sources close to the company, ECDCO is now targeting investment from private and institutional investors, in particular from the Gulf region. It is also in talks with companies such as UK-based petrochemicals firm Ineos and Switzerland’s Llyondell Bassel for technology.

The masterplan was launched in 2009, with the US engineering firm Fluor acting as the project management consults (PMC). While the overall plan has not been scaled back, the company may begin with a smaller project initially.

However, feedstock has not yet been allocated from either of the two nearby refineries at Brega or Ras Lanuf. ECDCO is also seeking approval from state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) for a land allocation.

Phase one of the development will only cover industrial developments, while later phases will add urban housing and recreational facilities.