UPDATE 1-Swiss firms easily replaced on Libya projects-official

Mon May 10, 2010 9:27am EDT

Related Topics

* Swiss-based firms easily replaced in Libya's upstream

* New oil law expected in the next few months

* Oil prices to hit $85-$87 after euro zone bailout deal

(adds details)

By Simon Webb

DOHA, May 10 (Reuters) - Swiss-registered firms involved in Libya's energy projects can be replaced with little disruption to its upstream developments, Tripoli's top oil official said on Monday.

Libya slapped a trade embargo on Switzerland in March as tensions between the two escalated following the arrest of leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Hannibal in 2008 on charges -- later dropped -- of mistreating two domestic staff.

"There are plenty of companies who can replace those firms," Libya's Shokri Ghanem told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference.

He did not specify if this meant the Libyan authorities would require international oil companies operating oil and gas permits to replace Swiss-registered companies with other firms.

Firms registered in Switzerland which are working on Libyan projects include Transocean Ltd.(RIG.N), Noble Corp (NE.N) and Foster Wheeler (FWLT.O). Transocean said last month Tripoli's embargo could prevent Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) from deploying a Transocean rig to drill in Libya.

Gaddafi's son was released shortly after his arrest, but Libya cut oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrew billions of dollars from Swiss bank accounts and arrested two Swiss business men working in the North African country.

Swiss exports to Libya totaled 156.2 million Swiss francs ($145.7 million) last year, according to official Swiss figures, while Switzerland imported goods worth 717.6 million francs from Libya, mostly crude oil. In 2009, Libya supplied some 30 percent of all Swiss oil imports.

Ghanem said there Libya would likely roll out a new oil law in about 2-3 months.

The hydrocarbon law in force now dates back to 1955, though it has been amended since then.

Ghanem had said earlier this year a replacement was needed to bring the law up to date with the modern energy industry.

No details have been disclosed about whether the draft law will change the terms for international energy companies operating in Libya.

Oil prices would rise to $85-$87 a barrel following the $1 trillion euro zone bailout package, Ghanem said.

(Reporting by Simon Webb; Editing Christian Lowe and William Hardy)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.