Statoil holds off on Libya reopening

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Norwegian oil company Statoil won’t say when it plans to re-open its office in Tripoli but company officials confirm they’re watching developments in Libya carefully, not least since the country officially declared its liberation from 42 years of dictatorial rule under Moammar Gadhafi.

“We’re following the developments in Libya very closely, with the thought of reopening our office,” Statoil spokesman Bård Glad Pedersen told Aftenbladet.no on Monday.

Until opponents to Gadhafi’s regime launched their uprising earlier this year, Statoil had an office in Tripoli with about 30 employees. Only one was Norwegian, with the remainder either on foreign contracts or locally employed. Statoil has taken part in oil exploration and production in Libya, both at the Mabruk field, in Murzuq and elsewhere in the country.

Operations ceased when the violence broke out. “The most important thing for us is the security of our employees,” Glad Pedersen claimed. “We will reopen the office when that’s assured.”

He wouldn’t detail the extent of contact Statoil has with Libya’s transitional government. He called Statoil’s ownership stakes in the country “small” and said oil companies Total of France and Repsol of Spain are in charge of the exploration activities in fields where Statoil is involved.

Resumption of oil production is important for Libya as it rebuilds a new economy and political system after the revolution against Gadhafi. Some analysts have said it may take up to two years before production returns to pre-war levels.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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