The overseas unit of Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach is to resume its upstream operations in neighbouring Libya next week after a year's absence, an official in the Algerian energy sector said. Sonatrach, like most foreign energy companies, pulled its staff out during last year's rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi.
Although the company does not produce oil or gas in the country, it has exploration rights in the Ghadames basin, near the border between Libya and Algeria. Sonatrach's subsidiary "will resume its activities in Libya starting next week after agreement was given by the parent company and by the relevant ministries", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Foreign operators are gradually coming back to Libya, although they have concerns about security on the ground and about the possibility the new authorities will review contracts signed during Gaddafi's rule.
The return of Sonatrach is a fresh sign that Algeria is trying to patch up differences with the new Libyan leadership.
Libyan crude production was about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) before the revolt, and then fell to almost nothing because of the violence. Last month the oil minister said production had recovered to about 1.5 million bpd.
During last year's insurrection, rebel leaders accused Algeria of being sympathetic to Gaddafi. The row deepened when, after Tripoli fell to the rebels, Algeria gave refuge to fleeing members of Gaddafi's family.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of Libya's National Transitional Council, made a first visit to Algeria last month, signalling the two countries were drawing a line under their dispute.