Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Security for companies working in Libya of interest to local authorities

The level of security for companies working in Libya remains a matter of acute interest to the local authorities. The likely withdrawal of a number of IOCs at the end of unsuccessful exploration programmes is recognised by Libya's senior planning agencies as an unwelcome setback to the economic development programme.

This will negatively affect Libya's principal economic sector, and considerably more exploration will need to be undertaken to ensure that reserve-to-production ratios do not fall significantly. The past six months - including the news of IOC withdrawals and soft world oil demand - have reinforced the pessimism for a strong surge in oil income for the immediate future.

It is interesting that NOC head, Dr Shukri Ghanem, was very sharp in making clear that the departure of IOCs was nothing unusual and that Occidental would remain for the time being. He was also at pains to assert that the long-term hydrocarbon development programmes are still on course. As noted last week, Shell's and BP's current exploration operations will be crucial. So far, BP remains convinced that its vitally important offshore drilling programme will begin before the end of the year. According to Ghanem, care has been taken to ensure that a repeat of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will not occur.

The negative impact of the withdrawal of some IOCs should not be over emphasised. Indeed, the simultaneous presence of 47 IOCs in Libya was – because of many reasons, including its inadequate infrastructure and NOC's insufficient numbers of senior personnel who are able to negotiate with the IOCs – placing a severe strain on the country to cope with the influx. The income flows from oil ought, however, to be adequate to sustain the present level of activity both in oil and other key areas.

It must be expected that the security for the oil industry will continue to be enforced. Libya is well aware that its oil reserves position is fair but not good and that it needs to protect those overseas companies which remain inside the country.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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