Libya is seeking to boost its oil production by a third to 2 million barrels a day by year-end, surpassing last year’s pre-conflict level, Libyan ambassador to Washington Ali Aujali said.
How fast Libya returns to pre-war levels or surpasses them “depends also on the oil companies, how fast they are returning” to restart or expand operations, Aujali said, speaking at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington yesterday.
Beyond oil, Libya is eager for American investment in tourism, health care and education, he said. The nation, whose governance is still in flux, plans to hold the first election for the national assembly next month after four decades of rule by dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“The environment is great” for U.S. companies, in large part because the Obama administration is credited by Libyans with pressing for NATO military action that helped topple Qaddafi last year, Aujali said.
“They appreciate what the Americans did,” he said, and American flags are often flown alongside Libyan ones around the country.
Aujali cited ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. as among U.S.-based multinational energy giants that have returned to Libya, and urged other U.S. companies to invest in all sectors of Libya’s economy.
American companies need to “be more involved, to be more aggressive to visit Libya to see where they can make business,” he said, so they don’t lose opportunities to other countries such as Italy, which has been proactive in seeking business prospects.
Aujali cited health care, infrastructure, education and tourism as sectors in which the Libyan government is seeking foreign investment. He said tourism remains one of the least- developed industries, citing Libya’s 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) of beaches and its cultural attractions, including Leptis Magna, one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the Mediterranean,
Aujali said Libya is seeking American universities and hospitals interested in assisting with training and technology and setting up branches or partnerships, as many have done in the Persian Gulf and North Africa.