* To drill first well in next few weeks
* BP says has undertaken extensive and rigorous preparations
* Libya's NOC chairman happy for drilling to go ahead
By Alex Lawler
LONDON, July 1 BP Plc <BP.L), striving to
contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is soon to start deepwater
drilling offshore Libya, where authorities say they are happy
for the company to go ahead.
The well, in the Gulf of Sirte in the Mediterranean, is the
first to be drilled under a $900 million deal BP signed with
Libya in 2007, which it described at the time as its largest
single exploration commitment.
"We're planning our first drilling there fairly soon. It's
in the next few weeks and we've got a five-well commitment and
we plan to drill two wells back to back," said BP spokesman
David Nicholas on Thursday.
"The first one is planned to be in something like 5,700 feet
Deepwater drilling is under the spotlight because of the
spill from a BP-owned well in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington is
debating this week on tougher legislation that will impact the
offshore drilling industry. [ID:nN30229965]
The water depth of the Libyan well is deeper than the
approximately 5,000 feet beneath which Transocean Ltd's rig
Deepwater Horizon, licensed to BP, was drilling in the Gulf of
Mexico. The rig exploded and sank, triggering the spill.
London-based BP is using a rig owned and operated by Noble
(NE.N) for the Libyan well and says it has prepared extensively
for the operation.
"Just like with any deepwater exploration activity, we have
undertaken extensive, rigorous and detailed preparations with
our contractors and by ourselves for this drilling," Nicholas
"The investigation is still ongoing into exactly what
happened in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. But any of the
lessons coming out of those investigations will be applied to
all of our operations worldwide."
BP signed the exploration and production agreement with
Libya's National Oil Corp in 2007, after the lifting of
international sanctions on Libya removed legal barriers to doing
business in the North African country.
Libya has said it is happy for the drilling to go ahead.
"If you have an air crash you don't stop air travel in the
whole world," said Shokri Ghanem, NOC chairman, last month. He
said the spill in the Gulf was "exaggerated somewhat."
(Editing by James Jukwey)