Suncor says not ready to return employees to Libya

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc said on Monday it is still unwilling to send its employees back to Libya even though its joint-venture partner there is getting ready to resume oil production in the strife-torn country.

Kelli Stevens, a spokeswoman for Suncor, said the company has been in contact with partner Harouge Oil Operations “and we’re aware of them taking steps to restart production”.

Stevens said Suncor is still concerned about the safety and security of its employees in Libya, and none of the expatriate employees it evacuated in February have yet returned.

Oil production in Libya is resuming as forces of the National Transitional Council consolidate their control and sweep out Muammar Gaddafi’s remaining loyalists.

Libya’s oil industry can restart without foreign firms, but analysts say a speedy return to prewar output of 1.6 million barrels per day will depend on their return.

Suncor’s share of its exploration and production sharing agreements with Libya’s National Oil Co averaged about 35,000 bpd before civil war disrupted operations.

It picked up the fields in the Sirte Basin of Libya in its 2010 acquisition of Petro-Canada.

The company wrote down the value of the operations in July by C$514 million ($500 million). The book value is now about C$400 million.

Suncor shares were up 51 Canadian cents, or 2 percent, at C$26.83 by late morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson