Libya aims to start signing major oil and gas contracts with international oil companies (OICs) by next June, the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said in an interview published on Monday.
Ahmad Abdulkarim Ahmad told the Cyprus-based Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) that detailed negotiations are planned for early January and agreements scheduled to be signed with firms by mid-2001.
The areas open for investment include the whole spectrum of the oil and gas industry in Libya, with a focus on the development and export of natural gas, the NOC chairman said.
A total of 137 blocks covering 835,000 square kilometers (334,000 square miles) are being opened to foreign companies for exploration in production-sharing agreements, according to MEES.
Libya hosted a conference in May attended by 49 IOCs, mainly from Europe but also from Canada, Asia and the Middle East. US sanctions against Tripoli in effect since 1986 have so far kept American companies out of the bidding.
MEES said Libya's current oil production capacity was estimated at 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), a figure expected to rise to two million bpd in two years.
Participants at a Tripoli economic conference last week noted that Libya needs to attract 35 billion dollars of investment to carry out a five-year development plan due to start next year.
In April 1999, the United Nations ended seven years of sanctions on Libya imposed for Tripoli's long refusal to hand over two Libyans suspects in the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people -- NICOSIA (AFP)
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