Libya wants U.S. Oil Companies To Return To The War-Torn OPEC

Libya wants U.S. oil companies to return to the war-torn OPEC nation and help it raise output rapidly.

“I would like to personally encourage foreign companies, especially those from the U.S., to come back,” Oil Minister Mohamed Oun said in an interview in Italy, where he’s attending a conference. “We require a lot of work to upgrade and maintain our facilities.”

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah recently appointed a special envoy to the U.S., who will try to get energy firms to invest in Libya, Oun said.

Libya’s been mostly mired in conflict since a 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moammar Qaddafi. A truce in its civil war roughly a year ago has led to more stability and enabled officials to increase oil production from almost nothing.

Several American energy companies have operated and taken stakes in Libyan oil fields in the past, among them ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. Some of them sold assets after the war began.

Libya, which sits on Africa’s largest oil reserves, is pumping around 1.3 million barrels a day and aims to boost that to between 2 and 2.5 million within six years, Oun said.

The government is also trying to attract money from Europe. Dbeibah said in an August interview that France’s TotalEnergies SE and Spain’s Repsol SA have offered to invest billions of dollars. The country’s National Oil Corp. set up a London office this month to work with firms thinking of doing business in Libya.

Political tension has risen ahead of an election scheduled for Dec. 24. Yet Oun said a return to fighting that leads to more paralysis in the oil sector is unlikely.

“The country is stabilizing,” he said. “I don’t think there will be big shutdowns.”

The government wants to develop the country’s “remaining potential reserves,” he said. There’s still plenty of territory to explore on land and in Libya’s Mediterranean waters, according to Oun.