Russia eyes return to Libyan energy sector

Dec. 29, 2011 at 7:00 AM
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MOSCOW, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- With Libyan oil production returning to pre-war levels, Russian energy companies might be well positioned to work with the new government, an analyst said.

Russian interest in Libyan oil surfaced last year when Boris Zilbermints, the deputy chief executive of Gazprom Neft, said his company is exploring various business opportunities in Libya.

Gazprom said in June 2010 that it planned to join the Elephant oil field through an asset swap with Italian energy company Eni, a major player in the Libyan energy sector.

Grigory Birg, an analyst and Russia's Investcafe, told Voice of Russia the Libyan war didn't undermine business opportunities between the two countries.

"The cooperation with the Russian energy companies will develop practically on the same terms as before the domestic conflict in Libya," he said. "The Russian gas giant Gazprom and the Tatneft Company, which were involved in the projects in Libya before the Arab Spring, are willing to return there."

The Elephant oil field was discovered in southern Libya in 1997. Estimated recoverable reserves are listed at around 700 million barrels of oil.

The National Oil Co. in Libya said in early December that oil production has reached 840,000 barrels per day, about half the level before the onset of conflict in March.

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