Libya was voted the most attractive prospect for oil and gas exploration activity in the world in an independent survey produced by Robertson last year. The survey gauged the interest of international oil companies (IOCs) in new ventures across 146 countries outside North America (MEED 13:4:01).

The National Oil Corporation (NOC)is in the process of letting new exploration licences in an attempt to raise production capacity from around 1.4 million barrels a day (b/d) of oil to 2 million b/d. NOC is understood to have selected a preferred bidder for the first of three block packages on offer. This covers M1 in the Murzuq basin; offshore blocks 0-9 and 0-10; Block S-36 in the Sirte basin; and an undefined area in the Kufra basin (Oil & Gas, MEED Special Report, 4:1:02, page 24).

Spain’s Repsol YPF, with Austria’s OMVis thought to be the frontrunner. Other IOCs that have expressed an interest include Royal Dutch/Shell Group, France’s TotalFinaElf, Italy’s Agipand Malaysia’s Petronas. European producers are keen to secure a foothold in Libya while US majors are still frozen out by sanctions (MEED 19:10:01).

In September the government gave the Oasis Group, made up of Amerada Hess, Conoco, Marathon Oil Companyand Occidental Petroleum Corporation, 12 months to activate its redundant assets in the Sirte basin. Oasis executives have since been in talks with NOC to discuss a possible return. The group’s existing concession agreements are due to expire in 2005 (MEED 14:9:01).