Libya wants U.S. oil companies to return to the country 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 Abdulhamid Dabaiba recently appointed a special envoy to the U.S., who will try to get energy firms to invest in Libya, Oun added.
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.
As for political tensions rising ahead of elections scheduled for December 24, 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 noted. There’s still plenty of territory to explore on land and in Libya’s Mediterranean waters, according to Oun.