Libya will open a new bidding round for licences to explore for oil and natural gas in March, Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem has said.
“I expect something early to mid-March,” Ghanem says. “Most of the blocks are assigned, and there will be more than in this round.”
US oil companies were welcomed back into Libya after a nearly 20-year absence recently, when Libya awarded licences to explore 15 areas in the first bid round since international sanctions were lifted.

Occidental Petroleum won a share of eight of the areas on offer. US oil companies ChevronTexaco and Amerada Hess each won one exploration area.

More than 60 companies, including most US oil majors and many smaller independents, submitted bids. The world’s largest oil companies, however, weren’t represented among the winners.

Interest in Libya’s next rounds may be keener, oil company sources say, because the properties on offer are expected to be of better quality.
“Of course, we would like the larger companies,” Ghanem says. “We’ve been testing the water with the medium size. Next time, we expect the majors to come with a heavier hand.”

Separately, the terms for the return of the so-called Oasis consortium of Marathon Oil, Amerada Hess and ConocoPhillips will likely be approved soon, Ghanem adds. “It’s almost finished with the National Oil Corp.” The agreement will then go to the Cabinet.