Oil and Gas Journal,
HOUSTON. Libya's National
Oil Corp. (NOC), in its first licensing round since
More than 120 companies had applied for the auction acreage, which covers
126,646 sq km. Of the 15 blocks, 9 are onshore in the Ghadames,
The auction saw the return of US companies to the country after more than 18 years of absence following US economic and political sanctions since 1986. The high quality of Libya's light, sweet crude, which is ideal for gasoline production, and the relatively quick travel time to the US—about half the time it takes Saudi crude to arrive at Gulf Coast refineries—added to the interest of US companies in the auction.
Many companies bidding had previously worked in
Three US companies—Occidental Petroleum Corp., ChevronTexaco
Corp., and Amerada Hess International Ltd.—won interests in 11 of the 15
permits. Other successful bidders hail from
The winning production-sharing licensees will spend $298.7 million exploring the blocks, NOC reported, and will take shares ranging from 10.8% to 38.9% of oil and gas production found.
Libya, the holder of Africa's largest oil reserves and its second largest exporter after Nigeria, wants to attract $30 billion in investment to double its 1.5 million b/d production capacity of mostly high grade sweet crude to 3 million b/d before 2010 and plans to conduct a second auction in February, offering another 40 blocks.
Outside investment and exploration in the country had fallen as a result
Oxy, with 90% interest, will operate Blocks 106 and 124 in the Sirte basin, Blocks 131 and 163 in the Murzuk basin, and Block 59 in the
"We expect to begin our exploration work in these blocks as soon as possible, " said Ray R. Irani, Oxy's chairman, CEO, and president.
Woodside, Australia's second-largest producer of gas and oil, plans to spend more than $50 million exploring the four offshore permits it will operate—Blocks 35, 36, 52, and 53 in the Sirte basin. Woodside holds a 55% interest in the blocks, with partner Oxy holding 35% and Liwa 10%. Woodside said it has committed to a 5-year program that will include seismic work and the drilling of four wells. The four blocks cover 37,300 sq km in water 100-1,500 m deep. Woodside said its blocks include "underexplored" frontier offshore acreage.
Other bid winners include
Oil India Ltd. (OIL),
OIL will be operator of the block. If oil is proven in the license areas,
Officials said OIL-IOC will bid for at least two licenses
A 50:50 partnership of
Bidding awards reportedly were based on the percentage share of production the bidder offered to NOC and the signing bonus the bidder was prepared to pay, a Libyan oil company official said.
The winning companies will carry out 3D seismic surveys on 2,850 sq km of prospective acreage and 2D surveys on 24,000 sq km and will drill 24 exploration wells.
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