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BP Will Share Oil, Gas Discoveries With Libya, Ghanem Says

Source: bloomberg 6/22/2007, Location: Africa

BP Plc and the Libyan government will share any oil fields BP may find under an exploration accord signed with the North African nation last month, a Libyan official said. The agreement was initially announced as a ''natural-gas cooperation accord'' during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Libya on May 29. London-based BP committed to spend at least $900 million on exploration works in offshore and onshore plots that cover a total of 54,000 square kilometers (20,850 square miles), about the size of West Virginia.

''We called it a 'gas accord' because BP will be exploring in gas-prone areas,'' said Shokri Ghanem, chairman of state-run National Oil Corp., in an interview yesterday in Vienna. ''Whether it finds oil or gas, it will have to share any discovery.''

Libya holds Africa's largest crude oil reserves. It has stepped up exploration with the help of foreign oil companies since 2004, when nearly two decades of U.S. sanctions were lifted. The sanctions had been imposed because of accusations that the country supported terrorism.

Under the agreement with BP, the Libyan government will have a 77.5 percent stake in any field found, BP 19.125 percent and the state-owned Libya Investment Corp. 3.375 percent, Ghanem said. That proportion applies to oil and gas fields, he said.

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