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Bloomberg: Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Exxon, Chevron, BP Among Companies Seeking Libya Oil Permits

By Maher Chmaytelli

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) — The world’s biggest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., BP Plc and Chevron Corp., are among 47 corporations that qualified to bid in Libya’s third auction of oil drilling rights.

Libya will auction the permits on Dec. 20. They give the permit holder the right to search for oil and gas in 14 offshore and onshore sites, covering a total area of 99,437 square kilometers (38,400 square miles), almost the size of Cuba.

A list of 47 companies that qualified to make offers was published on the Web site of Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corp. They were chosen from among 70 oil companies and investors that had expressed interest, it said.

The site of Africa’s largest oil reserves, Libya wants to attract $30 billion of investment to increase production this decade to 3 million barrels of oil a day, from 1.7 million barrels a day now. Two years ago, the U.S. eased sanctions against Libya, imposed after terrorism accusations in 1986, allowing for the return of U.S. oil companies.

The list of the companies that will be allowed to bid includes U.S.-based ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Marathon Oil Corp. and Hess Corp. Contenders also come from Europe, Russia, Asia, Canada, Australia, South America and Africa.

Permit Winners

Occidental, Chevron, Exxon and Hess won permits in the two previous auctions, held last year, with about 60 companies taking part. In January 2005, Libya held its first bidding round since oil was discovered there, in 1959. Until then, the nation awarded blocks after talks with companies.

European companies BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA, Eni SpA, Statoil ASA, Norsk Hydro ASA, Repsol YPF SA, RWE-DEA AG, BG Group Plc, Gaz de France, Wintershall AG, OMV AG and AP Moller- Maersk A/S were among the likely bidders. Others are Canada’s Petro-Canada and Talisman Energy Inc., Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. and Oil Search Ltd., and Russia’s OAO Gazprom and OAO Lukoil.

India’s and China’s largest oil companies, Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp., as well as Taiwan’s Chinese Petroleum Corp. were among Asian companies on the list, along with Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s state-oil groups, Petroliam Nasional Bhd and PT Pertamina respectively.

Asian bidders also include Japan’s two biggest oil explorers, Inpex Holdings Inc. and Japan Petroleum Exploration Corp., and its largest oil refiner, Nippon Oil Corp.

Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach may bid from Africa. Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA may bid from South America.

Libya has proven crude-oil reserves of 39 billion barrels and estimates potential reserves may be triple that amount. Only a quarter of its territory is covered by agreements with oil companies.

The U.S. sanctions were eased after Libya agreed in 2003 to pay $2.7 billion to the families of those killed in the 1988 bombing of a Pan American jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, and to end programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maher Chmaytelli in Nicosia at [email protected]

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