Vladimir Afanasiev

ONGC Videsh and Oil India answer call from Tripoli that seeks to rebuild the nation’s oil and gas industry and tap into new acreage. India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has confirmed an ongoing effort with compatriot Oil India to reinstate their presence in Libya’s oil and gas sector.

Both companies exited Libya in 2011 due to the country’s political instability, and authorities in Tripoli are striving to rebuild the country’s oil and gas sector. “Once it gets started for Oil India, [the] same applies to us. We are also in the same pact with National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya”, ONGC exploration director Sushma Rawat was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Earlier this week, Oil India chairman Ranjit Rath, speaking on the sidelines of the India Energy Week conference in Goa, said the company is seeking approval from stakeholders to restart exploration drilling in Libya. Before exiting 11 years ago, ONGC’s international subsidiary ONGC Videsh and Oil India, in partnership with Indian Oil Corporation, were involved in exploring and developing Libya’s Block 81/1 in the Ghadames basin and Block 102/4 in the Sirte basin.

Earlier this year, Libya’s NOC was reportedly planning to launch an oil and gas licensing round later this year, its first such acreage release in 17 years, with acreage to be offered to international oil companies. Speaking in Tripoli in January, Libya’s Minister of Oil & Gas Mohamed Oun said: “We are not against international companies coming back, but they should come to conduct exploration activities, not into already discovered fields.”

About 30% of area under the state control of Libya remains unexplored, according to the minister. “We still have fields yet to be explored, including those in the Mediterranean and central regions, where new oil and gas fields will be discovered,” Oun said, according to news outlet TRT Afrika. Meanwhile, NOC chairman Farhat Omar Bengdara revealed governmental ambitions to rejuvenate Libya’s energy sector.

“Governments, the private sector and international bodies, including the board of directors of the National Oil Corporation, with the help of global think tanks, have developed an ambitious strategy built on relevant global trends in the energy field,” Bengdara said. This strategy is designed to return Libya to its former status as a prominent energy-producing country, supporting sustainable economic development and aiming to achieve a production capacity of 2 million barrels per day, he said.

ONGC Videsh is also in talks to increase production in Venezuela, Rawat told reporters on the sidelines of the India Energy Week conference in Goa this week. Oil India, meanwhile, is in talks with operators to ramp up oil production in the South American nation, according to Reuters. The US last October granted sanctions relief for Venezuela in recognition of a deal for elections this year. However, at the end of January, Washington started reinstating sanctions on Venezuela.


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