- Title: LIBYA: Libya's interim govt may seek new oil bids
- Date: 9th December 2012
- Summary: TRIPOLI, LIBYA (DECEMBER 9, 2012) (REUTERS) LIBYAN MINISTER OF OIL, ABDELBARI AL-ARUSI SEATED AT HIS DESK LIBYAN FLAG (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN MINISTER OF OIL, ABDELBARI AL-ARUSI, SAYING: "The further challenge is to keep up the production of 1.5 million bpd, our priority is to keep this level up." CLOSE OF LIBYAN FLAG AND CLOCK ON TABLE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN MINISTER OF OIL, ABDELBARI AL-ARUSI, SAYING: "We call on all private companies, especially, the service companies to return to Libya as soon as possible, things are continuing to get better." PIN WITH LIBYAN FLAG ON AL-ARUSI'S LAPEL (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN MINISTER OF OIL, ABDELBARI AL-ARUSI, SAYING: "We are focusing on updating our existing refineries and building new ones by using local internal funds or assistance from abroad." CLOCK ON TABLE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN MINISTER OF OIL, ABDELBARI AL-ARUSI, SAYING: "Our goal is to provide Libyans with 100 per cent of their fuel needs." INTERVIEW IN PROGRESS
- Embargoed: 24th December 2012 12:00
- Location: Libya
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Business,Environment,Economy,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVAB2W7ZGNXB05U1PJEAB30D1DIL
- Story Text: Libya's new oil minister says the country's main priority is to maintain current output levels and could seek a new licence depending on the situation in Libya.
Libya could proceed with a new round of oil exploration and production agreements in the current transitional period but the priority for now is to maintain pre-war output levels and future targets, the OPEC member's new oil minister told Reuters.
The North African country has lifted oil output faster than analysts had expected to around 1.5-1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) after last year's war, which ousted Muammar Gaddafi.
"The further challenge is to keep up the production of 1.5 million bpd, our priority is to keep this level up," Abdelbari al-Arusi said in his first major interview with international media since he was sworn in.
Arusi said the government's target was to increase production by 100,000 barrels per day in coming months and intend to drill more wells to increase production rate.
Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) aims to boost oil output to 1.72 million bpd by end-March but has warned of the risk that strikes could interrupt production.
Better security is important to foreign companies operating in Libya. Foreign oil companies returned after the fighting, but Libya is still waiting for oil service firms to return in a significant way to working in the desert fields.
Arusi said security in Libya was on the road to recovery.
"We call on all private companies, especially, the service companies to return to Libya as soon as possible, things are continuing to get better," he said, adding: "We are focusing on updating our existing refineries and building new ones by using local internal funds or assistance from abroad."
The new minister reiterated Libya's target of increasing output to 2 million bpd by 2015.
Arusi, who is from the western town of Zawiyah, took office a few weeks ago to replace Abdulrahman Ben Yazza as minister in an interim government in place until a new round of elections, which will follow the drafting of a constitution next year.
He said Libya would review its last round of Exploration and Production Sharing Agreements (EPSA) and "come up with the right solution for new negotiations in the future".
Until late 2004, Libya's unexplored territory had been off-limits for decades because of sanctions. In the last bidding round, after that land opened up and a scramble for acreage ensued, companies accepted some of the industry's tightest exploration and production deals.
Asked whether Libya is likely to see another licensing round within the next 15 months, Arusi said it would depend on the situation in Libya at the time.
Other senior Libyan oil officials have previously said there would be no new deals for at least a year.
Ahead of OPEC's Dec. 12 meeting in Vienna, Arusi described recent oil prices levels at around 110 USD a barrel as "reasonable". Brent crude fell nearly 4 percent last week to around 107 USD.
Arusi said he could not comment on whether he saw any need for OPEC to change its output target of 30 million bpd at the meeting.
Arusi has announced a proposal to separate Libya's exploration and production activities from refining, shaking up the running of its key industry by creating two separate bodies that would be based in Tripoli and Benghazi.
In a move that could be seen as appeasing calls for more authority in the oil-rich east, the responsibilities of the Tripoli-based NOC would be carved up. The capital would be the headquarters for an exploration and production company, and a separate company headquartered in Benghazi would deal with refining and petrochemicals.
Since the end of the war, workers in the east have called for more powers in a region accounting for around 80 percent of Libya's oil wealth. Some have also called for a local company headquarters in the east as well.
He said the proposal to split the NOC would also create a new company, based in Benghazi and with regional branches, which would deal with the construction of pipelines and plants.
Officials have spoken of plans to create a protection force to guard Libya's oil installations, uniting the thousands of ex-rebel fighters now standing guard after the war. Arusi said this was the responsibility of the defence and interior ministries but that progress was being made.
Arusi, who was imprisoned for eight years under Gaddafi, was relatively unknown to the industry before his appointment. He worked at Libya's Sirte Oil for 16 years, as an engineer and expert in corrosion at the Marsa El-Brega terminal in the east.
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