April 4, 2018 / 6:23 PM / 4 months ago

Libya's National Oil Corp signs deal with Artelia for new Benghazi offices

(Corrects APRIL 4 story to remove reference to headquarters, paragraph 1.)

FILE PHOTO: The building housing Libya's oil state energy firm, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), is seen in Tripoli, Libya February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Wednesday it had signed a deal with French building and engineering group Artelia to manage the development of its offices in the eastern city of Benghazi.

There have been plans for years to move the state oil firm’s headquarters from the capital Tripoli back to Benghazi, but it remains unclear when such a transfer could happen.

NOC did not say when the complex would be built.

The buildings will include offices for other oil companies and a branch of Libya’s central bank, as well as a hotel complex and a conference center, NOC said in a statement.

It said the deal had been signed by NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla and Artelia executive director Alberto Romeo on Friday, and that funding would come from commercial banks. There were no details on the cost of the project.

Most of OPEC member Libya’s oil resources lie in the east of the country, but former leader Muammar Gaddafi moved NOC to Tripoli and starved the eastern region of investment.

Benghazi now wants greater influence but parts of the city are in ruins after more than three years of fighting linked to a broader conflict that developed in Libya after the country’s 2011 uprising.

Rival factions based in Tripoli and the east have vied for power over the past four years, with some groups in the east making unsuccessful attempts to sell oil independently of Tripoli.

Libya’s oil production, which was crippled by conflict and blockades after 2013, has partially recovered to more than one million barrels per day (bpd) last year.

The NOC recently announced it would organize an oil and gas conference in Benghazi in October.

Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Susan Fenton

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