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Libya Says 5 Foreign Oil Firms Working to Restore Ops

Source: Reuters 9/2/2011, Location: Africa

Five international oil companies have returned to Libya and are working on getting operations running again, the head of the ruling interim council's stabilisation team, Aref Ali Nayed, said on Friday. The five companies include Italy's Eni, Nayed told reporters at a meeting on Libya in Paris with donor groups and foreign experts. "I think at least five companies have come back," he said. "The ones that have existing infrastructure ... many are already back. They have sent in advanced crews and teams to re-start (for example) the refinery in Ras Lanuf or Eni's Mellitah gas infrastructure."

The 510 km (300 mile) GreenStream BV undersea pipeline between Mellitah, just west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, and Gela in Italy is 50 percent owned by Italian oil company ENI and supplied about 10 percent of Italy's gas imports in 2010. "The gas has been resupplied to the Mellitah project and the crude is beginning to flow back to the Zawiyah refinery," Nayed said. "We are anticipating good functionality very soon. Things are going back to normal."

Libya, an OPEC member, was producing 1.6 million barrels per day of oil before an uprising began in February against leader Muammar Gaddafi. The civil war caused foreign workers to flee and some oilfields and export terminals were damaged. Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said at a meeting in northern Italy on Wednesday he hoped the firm would restart gas exports from Libya by mid-October.

Nayed said there had been a preliminary assessment of refineries in Ras Lanuf and Brega in the east of the country and that the damage was "not extensive." He said he believed the EU decision to lift sanctions on Libyan ports and oil firms would also help restore offshore production. "These are on a production sharing agreement basis and now with the lifting of the names of our companies from sanctions this will open the way for production of these wells," he said.

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