Statoil flees Libya but oil prices rise
February 22, 2011
Norway’s state-controlled oil and gas company, Statoil, has decided to close its office in the Libyan capital of Tripoli and withdraw all non-Libyan personnel, in response to protests and violence across the country.
Statoil operates oil projects in Mabruk og Murzuk in the Libyan desert, working jointly with Libyan state enterprise NOC. The Norwegian firm has around 30 employees based at its Tripoli offices. Only the country manager, who has already left the country, is Norwegian, while the company decided to withdraw all other foreign employees Monday.
During the recent revolution in Egypt, Statoil also had to evacuate its people, although a spokesperson confirmed to newspaper Aftenposten that the operations have now returned to normal since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. Statoil’s workers remain in Algeria, which has also experienced protests.
As well as the oil fields in Mabruk and Murzug, Statoil is also involved in exploratory operations elsewhere in the country. Libyan authorities have apparently tried to get Statoil to reduce its stake in its two current oilfields, which stand at 2.4 percent and 5 percent respectively.
However, the news was not entirely bleak for Statoil – the price of North Sea oil jumped to USD 108.45 per barrel, the highest level since October 2008, in reaction to fears about the security of supply from Libya and the surrounding region.
Business news site E24 reported that for every dollar increase in oil prices, annual oil revenues to the Norwegian treasury increase by NOK 1 billion. The recent rise in oil prices is proving to be another windfall for Norway, with hundreds of millions of unbudgeted revenes flowing into the Finance Ministry and, eventually, the central bank’s oil fund.