Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib appealed to U.S. companies, such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Microsoft Corp., to invest in his oil-rich country, saying Italian and French companies are already moving quickly to take advantage of opportunities in energy and infrastructure.
“The new Libya is open for business,” he said Friday in an interview during a visit to Washington, repeating a phrase Libyan diplomats have adopted for promoting opportunities in the North African nation.
Keib said Libya has restored oil production to 75 percent of prewar levels, producing as much as 1.2 million barrels a day currently, compared with 1.6 million barrels a day early last year. Libya was wracked by a bloody, eight-month rebellion last year that interrupted oil production and ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Keib also made his case for investment directly to 190 executives from 100 U.S. companies including Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, General Electric Co., Boeing Co. and Motorola Solutions Inc. in a closed-door session Friday. He assured members of the U.S.-Libya Business Association that his nation’s security situation is stable and shouldn’t be considered a hindrance to foreign investment and trade.
“Italians, especially Eni, are coming back first. They had the courage to do it,” Keib said in the interview, referring to the Italian oil company Eni SpA. “I hope U.S. companies would come. Even the U.S. oil companies haven’t started coming back.”
Keib said American companies that weren’t in Libya during the deadly uprising now have an opportunity “to show the Libyan people they care” and that they want to play a role in reviving the nation’s economy.
Rick Vierbuchen, director of Exxon Mobil International Ltd., was one of the executives who met with Keib and said his company was eager to help with restoring Libya’s wealth.
“It’s a new era in the oil and gas business in Libya and they should begin that era by establishing the systems and processes that they need to make sure the people of Libya are getting the greatest possible value from their nation’s resources,” Vierbuchen said in an interview. Irving, Texas- based Exxon Mobil is the world’s largest energy company by market value. “We’re simply offering to help with that process.”
Libyan output rose 200,000 barrels to 1.125 million last month, the highest level since February 2011, according to a Bloomberg News survey reported on Feb. 29. Libyan production had tumbled to 45,000 barrels a day in August from 1.585 million in January 2011, the last month before the uprising began, disrupting output.
(Source: The Daily Star)