Tripoli is launching a $54.4bn scheme to create two giant ‘energy cities’ on the Gulf of Sirte coast, in a bid to create 32,000 jobs and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment over the next 15 years.

The state-run Economic & Social Development Fund (ESDF) commissioned US engineering firm Fluor Corporation to develop a masterplan for the scheme in July 2007.

The fund approved the final version of the plan in July this year, but has only now disclosed its contents.

Fluor’s masterplan sets out a 15-year timetable for a total overhaul of the existing oil, gas and petrochemicals infrastructure at the industrial cities of Ras Lanuf and Marsa el-Brega.

It also sets out plans to develop major power, refining, petrochemicals production and gas-export facilities, as  well as a town with a population of more than 118,500 and the creation of 31,958 jobs.

Fluor also plans to develop a five-star holiday resort at Al-Egaila, on the coast between Ras Lanuf and Marsa el-Brega. 

The ESDF, which owns stakes in all of Libya’s downstream oil and gas projects, wants to carry out the masterplan in three five-year phases starting in 2010, with work finishing in 2024. “This will be the next big energy city project that people talk about,” says Said al-Hoderi, a senior executive at Libya’s Economic Development Board.

Fluor has modelled the development on similar projects in Saudi Arabia, such as Jubail Industrial City.

The ESDF will pay for the urban development and basic infrastructure surrounding the new industrial complexes.

The fund plans to work in joint venture partnerships on the new industrial plants, says Anwar Sassi, project director on the scheme.

The ESDF will decide how much its foreign partners contribute to the developments on a “case-by-case” basis, he adds.

The Economic Development Board is working on a series of economic reforms to attract foreign investors to the country, says Al-Hoderi. These include tax incentives for companies setting up facilities at the two energy cities.

“They [Ras Lanuf and Marsa el-Brega] will not be free zones but special cities,” says Al-Hoderi. “They will have more leverage than traditional free zones. They will become dedicated cities for energy development, and this is where the Economic Development Board can enter and find the best regulations and best policies to support these investments.

“Of course, we will have to have more incentives than those in the existing market.”

Tripoli has been planning to redevelop Ras Lanuf and Marsa el-Brega since the 1980s, International contractors vie for contracts to increase output at five fields

S-led trade embargoes against Libya introduced in 1986 prevented it from going ahead. The US lifted the last trade embargoes in 2004.