April 22, 2013 / 1:36 PM / 7 years ago

Total aims to start exploring in offshore Libya in May

TRIPOLI, April 22 (Reuters) - France’s Total said it aimed to start offshore exploratory drilling in Libya next month for gas, in a further sign the OPEC member’s energy industry is returning to normal after the 2011 war.

Speaking at the Libya Oil & Gas Summit in Tripoli, Bernard Avignon, managing director of Total Exploration and Production in Libya, said the company was waiting for a drilling rig that was undergoing tests in Croatia.

“We hope it will start making its way towards the exploration area in Libya next week to start drilling operations at some point in mid-May,” he told reporters on the sidelines, adding work would focus on two wells in the area.

“We hope to discover more gas, we have already discovered gas in that area.”

Total, which operates in Libya through the Mabrouk joint venture with the state National Oil Corporation, currently produces 41,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil at its offshore al-Jurf field and 35,000 bpd at its onshore Mabrouk field.

He said Total also wanted to do more seismic studies in the area around the Mabrouk oilfield.

“We would like to have a clearer vision of the last parts of the concession that have not been explored, with the aim of doing some exploration drilling at the end of 2014, beginning 2015,” he said.

Libya has impressed analysts by ramping up production more quickly than expected to around 1.5 million bpd after the war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi. So far, it has had only limited success, however, in luring security-conscious foreign firms back to explore in a country awash with weapons.

BP said in late January it was reconsidering plans to drill for oil in Libya due to heightened security fears following an attack by Islamist militants on the In Amenas gas plant in neighbouring Algeria.

Libyan Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi said on Monday Libya aimed to start inviting bids for new exploration blocks by the end of this year.

Asked if Total would be interested in participating, Avignon said: “Of course we look, of course we are interested.” (Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; driediting by Jane Baird)

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