By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 11 June 2013:
Libya has agreed to provide Tunisia with 450,000 barrels of oil a month at preferential rates as of August until the end of 2013 and 650,000 barrels of a month during 2014. The deal was signed today in Tripoli by Libya’s Oil and Gas Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi and Tunisian Industry Minister Mahdi Jumaa.
Under the agreement, Libya has also agreed to take a stake in the proposed $2-billion oil refinery in Skhira the Gulf of Gabes. In addition, the two sides have decided to set up a joint working group to study the feasibility of providing Libyan oil as feedstock to the refinery by building a link from Libyan oilfields to the Trapsa oil pipeline which currently runs to the Skhira oil terminal.
The working group will also produce feasibility studies on a 260-kilometre gas pipeline from Libya’s Mellitah gas complex west of Zawia to Gabes.
In 2010, the Qaddafi regime opted to invest in the planned 120,000-barrel-a-day Skhira refinery which had till then been shelved because of lowering oil prices. The plan at that point was to use Libyan oil as the feedstock and work towards increasing capacity to rise to 250,000 b/d.
The size of the new Libyan stake in the project in undisclosed. Last year, the Qatari government, the original partners in 2007, announced that it was rejoining the project but was looking for a partner.
Today, Arusi said that the Tunisian Industry Minister’s visit put a seal on oil projects that had been discussed in the past but it was also a follow-up on joint projects already established.
“Tunisia wants to buy Libyan oil and there was an agreement signed between the transitional government and the Tunisian authorities to provide it with oil. Tunisia wants to renew this agreement. Libya has no objection because Tunisia is a friend and supported the Libyan people during the revolution” Arusi explained.
The agreement signed today also called on the National Oil Corporation and Tunisian companies involved in marketing and distributing oil products to meet before the end of September to assess the market for petroleum products, including motor oil.