| LONDON, March 6
LONDON, March 6 Oil and gas major BP said
it had mothballed plans to explore in Libya's Ghadames basin
because of security concerns, the latest in a series of
companies to rethink their projects amid growing instability.
Three years of turmoil since the Arab Spring and tough
contract terms have prompted oil firms to reassess their role in
Libya, and several have said they would postpone their plans or
scrap them altogether.
BP's exploration and production sharing agreement with Libya
covers onshore acreage in Ghadames, near the border between
Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, and offshore acreage in the central
"With respect to the onshore exploration drilling programme,
a security review in June concluded that this could not be
safely and securely delivered by BP at this time. Alternative
approaches are being considered," BP said on Thursday in its
The British company was continuing with its offshore plans,
where safety risks are much lower.
"Preparation work towards our offshore exploration drilling
programme is continuing," it said.
BP signed the agreement with Libya in 2007, when it was seen
as a landmark deal that sealed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi's
return to the international fold after years of sanctions.
BP is still at the exploration stage and does not produce
oil in Libya. Its assets there were worth $472 million at the
end of 2013, according to its annual report.
Since Gaddafi's overthrow in 2011, instability in Libya has
been rising, with attacks on foreigners becoming increasingly
frequent. A mix of disgruntled workers, separatists and militias
have blocked much of its oil exports for months at a time.
In September, Exxon Mobil, the world's largest
publicly traded energy firm, said it would cut its staff and
operations in Libya due to growing insecurity.
Royal Dutch Shell abandoned exploration on two blocks in
2012 due to disappointing results.
Last year Marathon Oil attempted to sell its stake
in one of Libya's top oil ventures, but Libya blocked the deal.
BP was one of several oil companies that scrambled to return
to Libya after 2003. In bidding rounds opening up territory that
had been off limits for years, companies accepted some of the
industry's tightest exploration and production terms.