By Nigel Ash.
Tripoli, 22 April 2013:
Though there was some caution, the sentiment was generally upbeat among exhibitors at the Oil and Gas . . .[restrict]Libya and Infrastructure Libya exhibition and conference that opened today at the Tripoli International Fairground.
While there was a smattering of infrastructure firms among the 118 exhibitors from 20 countries, the majority was from the oil and gas industry with service companies predominating. French, Chinese and Turkish firms were strongly represented with a large stand from Germany’s Wintershall. Of the Libyan oil companies NOC and Mellitah were prominent.
Exploration and Production activity has remained at a low level, said one visitor to the neighbouring conference. Before the revolution there had been 80 rigs, including offshore; now there were only 13. In recent months foreign oilcos have cited security as the main reason for their holding back on returning to their old activity levels. BP, for instance, is still reconsidering its plan to resume full operations this autumn following the In Amenas attack in Algeria this January. The British-based company was not among the Tripoli exhibitors.
However there has also been unhappiness with the tight terms of the EPSA IV licensing rounds, which have been described as some of the toughest worldwide, with some foreign oil partners ceding up to 90 percent of their production to NOC or one of its subsidiaries.
Activity among NOC companies has been mixed. Agoco and Harouge are reportedly big spenders on new equipment whereas other NOC subsidiaries are currently quiet.
The opening speech of the conference was given by oil minister Abdulbari Ali Abdel-Hadi Al-Arusi who repeated his announcement last month that Libya would be running a further licensing round later this year. Arusi said that Libya was determined to boost its current 1.5 million barrels a day production to 1.7 billion by the end of the year.
The keynote address was given by Bernard Avignon, General Manager, Total EP Libya, who reminded his audience that Total had been present in Libya for over 50 years.
Avignon said that Total currently had two major projects in progress, a 3D seismic acquisition in the Mabruk field due to start in December and two deep offshore exploration wells looking for gas resources, work on which will begin next month.
Total, one of the two leading sponsors of the show and conference had a large stand in the exhibition hall with room for both business discussions and two Formula One race car simulators. One Libyan visitor made a few convincing high speed circuits of the track before pulling into the pits and clambering out of the race car. He thanked the Total people but explained that the simulator was not as exciting as driving in Tripoli traffic.