Tripoli prepares for new licensing round

16 June 2006

National Oil Company (NOC) chairman Shukri Ghanem has confirmed Tripoli's intention to launch in the autumn the country's third oil and gas exploration licensing round since the lifting of international sanctions in mid-2004.

Speaking to reporters in Tripoli on 13 June, Ghanem said: 'We are now just finalising the blocks we are going to offer and we'll meet people and have a roadshow. Some time around September or October, the decision will be made, but we'll start the roadshow in two months.'

Ghanem said that the round would be based on the EPSA IV contract model used in the previous two rounds. 'We are currently deciding the blocks to be offered,' he said, adding that the blocks would be awarded through a 'free bidding process' and not through directly-negotiated agreements.

Ghanem said the country's oil reserves were between 38 million- 40 million barrels, higher than the 37 million barrels reported in the latest OPEC figures.

The former prime minister also revealed that NOC was seeking to enter into joint venture agreements with international oil companies to expand by more than 60 per cent the capacity of the country's two main refineries at Azzawiya and Ras Lanuf.

'Tripoli has been seeking to develop its energy infrastructure for some time and it is likely that they will seek to do this by offering an upstream position in return for downstream investment,' says one UK-based analyst. 'It will be similar to what they have done with Royal Dutch/Shell Group at Mersa Brega LNG plant. They are keen to attract the supermajors and are talking to some already, such as BP. NOC is keen to hold a development round for its existing fields but it is unlikely to be this year.'

Eight international companies are preparing to submit by 5 July bids for the estimated $650 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to upgrade the 120,000-b/d Azzawiya refinery (MEED 28:4:06).

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