Libya's six key oil sector players

11 January 2008

Six key players in Libya’s oil sector - Shokri Mohamed Ghanem, Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, Ahmed al-Hadi Aoun, Azzam al-Mesallati, Omar Gazal and Ali el-Sogher Mohamed Salah.

Shokri Mohamed Ghanem

Chairman and managing director, National Oil Corporation

The most important person in Libya’s hydrocarbons sector, Shokri Mohamed Ghanem has led National Oil Corporation (NOC) since 2006. A partner in all upstream oil and gas contracts in Libya, NOC was, until recently, the sole owner of downstream infrastructure. Ghanem’s appointment as chairman, after three years as Libya’s prime minister, gave renewed drive to the sector’s development. He has also attracted substantial foreign investment to Libya since international sanctions were lifted. An economics graduate from the University of Libya in Benghazi, Ghanem worked for the Pet-roleum Ministry while studying for two master’s degrees and a doctorate in international economics at Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in the US. After academia and two years as Opec secretary general, he returned to government in 2001 as economy and trade minister, before becoming prime minister in 2003.

Contact - E-mail:

Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi

Prime Minister and chairman of the Council for Oil & Gas Affairs

As chairman of the Council for Oil & Gas Affairs, Prime Minister Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi plays an instrumental role in the country’s hydrocarbons sector. The council has final approval on all contracts and reviews all hydrocarbons projects under its remit to manage the country’s oil resources. It was established in September 2006, after the disbanding of the Energy Ministry seven months earlier. The council advises National Oil Corporation and acts as a sub-committee to the cabinet on oil matters. Tripoli insisted at the time of its launch that it would not add an extra layer of bureaucracy to the state’s already slow decision-making processes, claiming cabinet approval would no longer be necessary. But an exploration deal agreed with the UK’s BP in May 2007 was only signed off by the council in November and still requires cabinet ratification.

Contact - Fax: (+218) 213 615 041

Ahmed al-Hadi Aoun

Director and corporate planning, studies & project manager, National Oil Corporation

Ahmed al-Hadi Aoun was appointed director of corporate planning, studies and projects in 2006 and is the key figure in the development of Libya’s state hydrocarbons sector. He develops joint ventures between National Oil Corporation (NOC) and international oil companies, and is involved in the exploration, development, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of downstream infrastructure. Since graduating from the University of California with a chemical engineering degree in 1977, Aoun has worked for all of the main state companies. Starting at Azzawiya Refinery Company, he moved to Ras Lanuf Oil & Gas Processing Company, and in 1987 to NOC, where he was general manager of planning and oil processing. In 1995, he was made chairman of Sirte Oil Company, with responsibility for the development of the country’s largest oil and gas field.

Contact - E-mail:

Azzam al-Mesallati

Chairman of upstream negotiating committee, National Oil Corporation

Azzam al-Mesallati is the key figure in the signing of upstream contracts with foreign firms. He is the chief negotiator for National Oil Corporation (NOC) in its discussions over joint venture companies, and an important decision-maker in the upstream sector. Since the lifting of international sanctions, Tripoli has actively tried to attract foreign investment in oil and gas exploration. According to Al-Mesallati, the country’s oil production cap-acity will exceed 3 million barrels a day (b/d) by 2012, from 1.6 million b/d today. An explor-ation and production sharing arrangement format was introduced in 2005 for the licensing of acreage, and Tripoli has since held four international licensing rounds. Six contracts were awarded in December in the country’s first gas round. NOC is also renegotiating existing upstream oil and gas contracts to bring them into line with the arrangement format.

Contact - Tel: (+218) 213 337 141

Omar Gazal

General manager for oil and gas processing and petrochemicals, National Oil Corporation

A key figure at National Oil Corporation, downstream chief Omar Gazal will become an increasingly important player as the country’s hydrocarbons sector develops. Gazal is focusing on upgrading the country’s downstream oil, gas and petrochemicals facilities. Petrochemicals units under his control include Ras Lanuf, Marsa el-Brega and Abu Kammash, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at Marsa el-Brega and five oil refineries. Among those to be upgraded are the Marsa el-Brega LNG plant and ammonia/urea lines, the Ras Lanuf refinery and petrochemicals facilities, and a refinery at Azzawiya. New facilities are also planned. Norway’s Yara International and the US’ Dow Chemicals are developing plans for fertiliser and plastics units, while LNG schemes have been proposed by the UK/Dutch Shell Group, Italy’s Eni and the UK’s BP.

Contact - E-mail:

Ali el-Sogher Mohamed Salah

Chairman, Sirte Oil Company

As chairman of Sirte Oil Company (SOC), Ali el-Sogher Mohamed Salah is responsible for arguably the most important of National Oil Corporation’s subsidiaries. A graduate of Glasgow University in the UK, Salah was promoted to chairman after a stint as exploration manager. He is now in charge of a company with 6,000 employees and interests throughout the value chain. Although other state companies produce more oil, the Sirte basin’s key role in helping Libya to increase its gas exports means SOC is pivotal to the sector’s future. Both the UK/Dutch Shell Group and the UK’s BP have signed bilateral deals to explore the Sirte basin for gas. In December, Shell and the US’ Occidental were awarded Sirte acreage in the country’s first gas licensing round. SOC is also upgrading the country’s only liquefied natural gas plant, at Marsa el-Brega, and there are plans both to expand the plant and build a facility at Ras Lanuf.

Contact - Tel: (+218) 21 4800 940

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