By Tom Westcott and Nigel Ash
Tripoli & London, 7 November 2013:
BP has today been seeking to play down US reports carried . . .[restrict]in the Libya Herald that it was seeking to cut its Libyan onshore investment, because of security concerns.
The oil company is, according to the Wall Street Journal, in talks with NOC to pare back its involvement into two Ghadames basin blocks from partner to merely an operator. BP is currently committed to drill 12 wells in the concession, which it shares with NOC subsidiary Agoco. It has however confirmed that its offshore exploration programme in the Gulf of Sirte will be going ahead.
In a statement given to the Libya Herald today, BP said: “We are still evaluating options for progressing the exploration of our onshore acreage in Libya. This is being done in close consultation with the regulator NOC. No agreements have been made.”
A senior source at NOC confirmed today that the talks were being held but declined to go into details. A spokesman for Agoco meanwhile said he was unaware that BP was seeking to renegotiate its deal with his company.
BP referred this newspaper to remarks CEO Bob Dudley made with the publication of the oilco’s second quarter results this July. Dudley said then that BP had been about to begin work on both its onshore and offshore concessions at the start of 2011. Work had to be abandoned and it declared force majeure.
“ We continue to plan the offshore work. We had put it in hibernation, but we had let the rig go back, a couple of years ago. Now we have plans to bring in another rig and drill the offshore prospect”.
Of its onshore blocks shared with Agoco, Dudley said in the summer: “Onshore, we have some ideas of joint venturing, potentially, that would not put us in the operator role, that are being planned.
“That one will just have to take its time. We are not going to put anybody in any difficult circumstances in terms of our employees, Libyan, nor expatriates. Neither materially affects our growth plans, by the way, because they are longer-term.” [/restrict]