Libya plans to invite bids from foreign firms for oil concessions by the end of 2013, Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arussi told AFP on Wednesday, adding that Tripoli wants to increase its OPEC output quota.
“We need some time to study the details, but we will probably announce the call for oil exploration offers in the fourth quarter of 2012,” he said in an interview.
Arussi reported “strong demand” from oil majors seeking to work in Libya, “a promising country with large surfaces which have not yet been explored, both on land and at sea.”
Libya’s last energy concessions, the fourth in the country’s history, were granted in 2007 for natural gas exploration.
The minister also said that Tripoli plans to request a hike in its OPEC production quota, from the current level of 1.5 million barrels per day to 1.7 million bpd.
“We will ask for an additional quota at the next OPEC meetings… Our aim is to reach 1.7 million bpd,” he said, adding that initial talks with the cartel have already started.
Arussi said Libya needed the extra funds to finance post-war reconstruction following the 2011 revolution which toppled Moamer Kadhafi.
Libya’s oil output was reduced to almost zero with the departure of foreign companies and experts during the revolution, but it has since almost recovered to its pre-war level of 1.6 million bpd.
Hydrocarbons account for more than 80 percent of Libya’s GNP and up to 97 percent of its exports.
“Our priorities are, firstly, to maintain the current production level through regular maintenance and developing oilfields, and then security,” the minister told AFP.
“There have been certain incidents but this happens all around the world. Overall, Libya is a secure country,” he said in a message to foreign firms.
Since Kadhafi’s fall, unrest and violent protests have disrupted production at several hydrocarbon plants, including a suspension in gas supplies to Italy last week because of clashes between armed groups near a site in western Libya.
Arussi said Libya also plans to increase its oil refining capacity and to develop petrochemical industries that generate jobs.
“Libya imports 70 percent of its fuel needs, something which is not normal for a country which has been producing oil for decades,” he said, announcing the creation of public company to be based in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Arussi said it would be in charge of refinery projects, the development of petrochemical industries and the modernisation of the Zawiyah refinery in western Libya and expansion of those in Tobruk and Sarrir, to the east.
A refinery is to be built in the southern region of Sabha to meet the region’s fuel demands, he said.
“And a study is under way to construct an industrial zone around the oil port of Ras Lanuf (eastern Libya) at a cost of 45 billion dollars,” the oil minister said.