By Tom Westcott
Tripoli, 6 July:
A top Indian engineering company has high hopes for new investment opportunities in post-revolutionary Libya.
Punj Lloyd . . .[restrict]Ltd, India’s third largest private engineering company, is relying on renewing investments in Libya to help boost its profits, as opportunities for growth stagnate within India.
After a year’s hiatus, Punj is intending to resume oil-field work in the Sirte Basin for Waha Oil Company.It is also planning shortly to restart construction of a road and work on a township upgrading in Tripoli. When Punj announced it was returning to work in Libya, its share value rose six percent on the Mumbai stock exchange.
The company, which specialises in energy and infrastructure, has $800 million worth of existing projects in Libya, including three construction and two drilling projects. Work at the five major Punj projects in Libya was halted in the early days of the revolution, which forced most foreign companies to evacuate workers.
As with other foreign contractors, Qaddafi-era contracts are being reviewed by a special committee set up by the NTC. Punj was leery of revealing the state of their own negotiations.
“It is extremely early days yet for us to be able to share any information, as Libya has only recently opened up,” Louise Sharma, Group Head of Corporate Communications for Punj Lloyd, told Libya Herald. “While Punj Lloyd is in discussions with the clients, this is likely to take some time. Meanwhile, we would not like to make any futuristic or forward looking statements.”
In their 2011 profile of Libya, India’s Ministry of External Affairs reported: “The presence of Indian Companies had risen significantly in the last five years.” Punj Lloyd is one of ten major private investors in Libya. A further four firms from India’s state-owned sector, including Oil India Ltd, ONGC, BHEL and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, have an operational presence in Libya.
According to the Indian statistics, bilateral trade from 2010-2011 stood at $584.58 million. With bilateral trade virtually stagnant for a year, India is keen to get both trade and investment with Libya back underway.
Investment opportunities are not the only aspect of Indian-Libyan business to have been affected by the Arab Spring. The lack of phosphatic and potassic fertilisers imported from both Libya and Syria, has had a dramatic impact on Indian farming, putting strain on government subsidies.
Despite their tardy recognition, in September 2011, of the national transitional council, the Indian government has given Libya $1 million cash via the United Nations. A further $1 million worth of medical supplies was sent to the country in January. [/restrict]