North Africa Tops Global Interest List

Libya Grabs Spotlight

It's that time again.

Time to take the temperature of industry interest in new oil and gas ventures on the international scene.

The info is available courtesy of Fugro Robertson, which conducts an International New Ventures Survey each year. To execute the survey, confidential questionnaires are distributed to oil companies involved in E&P ventures outside North America. The companies are asked to rate their level of interest in new ventures in 151 countries.

Country rankings are assembled and then analyzed to identify the determinants influencing their movement up or down from the previous year.

Results of the 2005 survey were recently released, and the winner is ...

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It's that time again.

Time to take the temperature of industry interest in new oil and gas ventures on the international scene.

The info is available courtesy of Fugro Robertson, which conducts an International New Ventures Survey each year. To execute the survey, confidential questionnaires are distributed to oil companies involved in E&P ventures outside North America. The companies are asked to rate their level of interest in new ventures in 151 countries.

Country rankings are assembled and then analyzed to identify the determinants influencing their movement up or down from the previous year.

Results of the 2005 survey were recently released, and the winner is ...

Libya.

The country captured the top spot, moving up from second place last year. It bumped the United Kingdom down to fourth place from the number one position it claimed for the previous two consecutive years.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Libya has total proven oil reserves of 39 billion barrels. The country has 12 oil fields with reserves of 1 billion barrels or more each, and two others with reserves of 500 million-1 billion barrels.

Libya's stated goals are to increase the country's oil production capacity from 1.60 million bbl/d at present to 2 million bbl/d by 2008-10, and to 3 million bbl/d by 2015. In order to achieve this goal, and also to upgrade its oil infrastructure in general, Libya is seeking as much as $30 billion in foreign investment over that period.

Libya is considered a highly attractive oil province due to its low cost of oil recovery (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), the high quality of its oil, its proximity to European markets and its well-developed infrastructure.

In April 2004, the United States eased economic sanctions against Libya that had been in effect since 1992 following developments of the investigation of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. In September 2004 most remaining U.S. sanctions against Libya were lifted, paving the way for U.S. oil companies to become involved in the hunt for oil.

Also, Libya is moving toward a variety of economic reforms, including less stringent contract terms.

Algeria and Egypt followed close behind Libya, nailing second and third place, respectively.

It is perhaps noteworthy that a trio of North African countries captured the top three spots in the polled results. Maybe even more noteworthy is that some folks rate this geographic area as primed for some serious terrorist activity, particularly as more westerners move in to conduct business (see related story, page 14).

Fugro noted the Middle East continues to be the most popular region, and number 5 Australia hangs in there as a favorite, moving up one slot from last year.

The Former Soviet Union reversed its upward trend shown in 2004, with highest-placed Russia given only enough nods to take 15th position.

Both Indonesia and Yemen made impressive gains, hopping up four slots to eighth place and five slots to number 11, respectively. Kuwait skidded down 20 numbers to rank number 41 this year, while the Ukraine fell 18 places to take the 43rd slot.

Despite the ongoing turmoil within and around its borders, Iraq weighed in at tenth place, sharing the ranking with Brazil.

The Top Ten countries for 2005, according to Fugro Robertson are:

  1. Libya.
  2. Algeria.
  3. Egypt.
  4. United Kingdom.
  5. Australia.
  6. Mauritania.
  7. Oman.
  8. Indonesia.
  9. Equatorial Guinea.
  10. Brazil, Iraq (tie).
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