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Libya Seeks Reconciliation With Oil Conference In The East

Libya held on Wednesday an oil and gas forum in the eastern city of Benghazi, where its state owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) ''reached out to a region home to a parallel government backing a rival oil firm'', according to Reuters.

The Benghazi Oil and Gas Exhibition and Forum is a rare event for the divided country in which rival institutions in the east and west have been vying for control over parts of the country and, on many occasions, over the oil fields and oil ports. The forum in Benghazi, Libya’s second-biggest city, is the first international conference in the eastern city since 2014, when fighting erupted in the area, Reuters notes.

“Benghazi city will play a prominent and important role for the oil and gas sector in the region and probably the world,” Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of Tripoli-based NOC, said in his opening remarks, as carried by Reuters. Sanalla’s participation in the conference and the speech was a rare sighting in Benghazi for the chairman of the NOC.

A Schlumberger executive told Reuters that the conference would be an important event for the oilfield services group.

Although no deals are expected to be reached during the conference, oil industry sources told Reuters that it is a political message to appease the eastern part of Libya, which has much of the oil resources and several of the key oil ports.  

Libya’s NOC is holding talks with international oil companies that could result in increased investment and production in Libya’s oil industry, if security across the country improves, Sanalla said last month.

Earlier this month, Sanalla told Bloomberg that Libya’s oil production could rise by several hundred thousand barrels daily when BP and Eni resume production at a shared field. NOC’s chairman said Libya’s current oil production was more than 1 million bpd “despite local security challenges,” adding that BP and Eni planned to restart their exploratory drilling operations at a field near the Libyan border with Tunisia in the first quarter of next year. They could then fast-track production, Sanalla said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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