The fight over oil

Topographic map of Libya. Created with GMT fro...

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We would like to believe that the fight in Libya is about freedom, democracy and the right to basic Human Rights but there is also a darker story out there. Some of the countries that did not vote and/or did not participate in the strikes are also the ones with the greatest economic interest in the country. I have compiled a list of oil companies and their ownerships structure and it reveals some interesting facts and a possible explanation why these countries are hesitating or are even against helping the Libyan rebellion.

PGNiG – Libya’s state-owned oil corporation ratified a gas exploration agreement in February 2008 with the Polish gas monopoly to drilling at least eight wells at a cost of $108 million in the Murzuq Basin over six years.The company aims to begin drilling the first two exploration wells in 2012. The company has 12 percent stake in the concession and hopes to reach an annual gas production of 1 billion cubic meters.

Poland is not part of the coalition

Gazprom – The Russian company is taking 50 percent of ENI‘s stake in Libya’s elephant oil field, valued at $170 million. The company was awarded a gas exploration license in 2007 for areas in the Ghadames Basin.

Russia is against the airstrikes but did not vote in the UN Security Council. It is interesting to note that Prime Minister Putin has close ties to the company and at the same time is calling the coalition a ‘crusade’.

RWE – The German energy company made two new oil discoveries in the Sirte Basin in 2008, only a year after its first oil discovery in the basin. It agreed to spend at least $76 million and drill two exploration wells in Syrenica basin blocks it won access to in late 2007.

Germany is not taking part in the coalition

Sonatrach – The Algerian state energy firm won three blocks in the first gas-focused exploration licensing round in 2009 and discovered oil in the Ghadames Basin in 2009.

Algiers is not taking part in the coalition

Petrobas – The Brazilian company as awarded licenses for exploring offshore in January 2005. A senior executive with Libya’s NOC state energy firm said in October that Petrobras was among other companies that had agreed to extend its license.

Brazil is not taking part in the coalition

Statoil – Statoil participates in land-based oil production and exploration activities in the Mabruk field and in the Murzuk basin.

Norway is part of the coalition and has contributed with six F-16 airplanes but they are delayed due to logistics in comparison has the danish airforce which have a similar structure been in in action for the past few days.

Total – The company holds a 75 percent stake in two fields — Mabruk with production of 19,000 bpd, and Al Jurf with 31,000 bpd.

France has been heavily involved in Libyan oil production and until just a few days before the airstrikes started there two governments had close ties to each other.

I would like to think that the countries that made a conscious choice not to take part in the collation did so because they thought that the ground for attacking the Libyan forces was against their ethics. But looking at the list I’m not too sure.