Libya seeks to invest in exploration off Cyprus

Libya's NOC Chairman Shukri Ghanem, following talks with Cypriot Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides, said NOC is considering investing in oil and natural gas exploration off southern Cyprus.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 30 -- Libya's National Oil Corp. Chairman Shukri Ghanem, following talks with Cypriot Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides, said the company is considering investing in oil and natural gas exploration off southern Cyprus.

Libya is "very much interested in looking at different possibilities of investment" in a search for oil and gas deposits inside the island's exclusive economic zone, Ghanem said, adding that Libya might also supply Cyprus with gas and invest in its energy sector.

According to Paschalides, Libya is interested in participating in a planned energy infrastructure project in Cyprus that would involve construction of a facility housing crude oil facilities as well as an LNG regasification terminal.

Paschalides, who described Libya as having "considerable capabilities" in oil drilling, confirmed that the North African country also is interested in the next round of licensing for oil and gas exploration off the southern coast of Cyprus.

Cyprus launched an initial licensing round in 2007 for 11 blocks covering 51,000 sq km of seabed, and government officials recently said a second licensing round will be launched at a time yet to be announced.

The island nation has long been in talks—all so far unsuccessful—with several suppliers of gas in North Africa, especially Egypt, with the aim of securing supplies to fire the country's power generators, which currently use heavy oil.

In February, Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority Vice-Chairman Stelios Petridis underscored his country's urgent need to secure supplies of LNG, saying that government would pursue direct negotiations with Russia, Algeria, and Egypt, in a bid to save time and find a company to supply the island "as soon as possible."

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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