Britain eyes Libyan oil

Aug. 14, 2009 at 1:30 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- With Britain running out of energy and Tripoli needing cash, British energy giants are scrambling to exploit vast unexplored natural resource fields in Libya.

British energy giants Royal Dutch Shell, BG and BP signed preliminary deals with the Libyan government to help develop the national oil and gas sector. BP announced a $900 million deal with Tripoli in 2007, while Shell moved on a similar deal in 2004 when the U.N. Security Council lifted weapons-related sanctions.

Much of the Libyan landscape remains unexplored, and with the international community warming to Tripoli in the wake of its weapons forfeit, the energy-rich African nation may be a key partner to Britain, The London Times reports.

Britain expects to increase its energy imports to 80 percent by 2015 as North Sea reserves become depleted. Libya, for its part, needs foreign investments to ramp up production, down from 3.3 million barrels per day in 1970 to a current rate of just 1.8 million.

Libya in the 1960s discovered at least 10 fields that hold billions of barrels worth of estimated oil reserves. Proven reserves approach 42 million barrels, or roughly 3 percent of the world's total.

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