By Libya Herald reporters.
Tunis, 19 September, 2017:
Austria might not top the list of countries with an interest in Libya but today its president had talks with Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj on the edge of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
Alexander van der Bellen was following up on a Tripoli visit this May by his country’s foreign minister Sebastian Kurz. It would seem certain that both Austrian politicians talked about their country’s oil company OMV. In February, OMV chairman CEO Rainer Seele was also in Tripoli where he told National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla that OMV wanted to expand its Libyan operations.
This year OMV bought out Occidental Petroleum’s seven-percent stake in the Nafoura oil field near Jalu in eastern Libya. Occidental and OMV developed the field in partnership with the NOC’s Arabian Gulf Oil Company as the majority stakeholder. The Nafoura, with estimated reserves of 7.5 million barrels, restarted production after the reopening of Zueitina oil export terminal in September. Before the terminal’s November 2015 closure the field had been producing 20,000 bpd.
Austria’s other significant Libyan investment was by Asamer Cement which in 2008 bought a controlling stake in the Libyan Cement Company for LD200 million. However in 2012, when Asamer faced financial difficulties it sold out to the Benghazi-based Libya Holdings Group.
An Austrian report of the meeting said that Serraj and van der Bellen also discussed illegal migration and terrorism and the development of economic and social ties.