Libya’s UN-backed internationally recognized government has suspended the Libyan operations of as many as 40 foreign companies, including those of France’s oil and gas supermajor Total, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a government official.
According to the Tripoli-based government of national accord (GNA), the licenses of those 40 foreign firms had expired.
Total has several exploration and production (E&P) operations in Libya, and just last year, the French major boosted its upstream Libyan operations by acquiring the 16.33-percent stake of the Waha oil concessions held by U.S. Marathon Oil Corporation for US$450 million in cash.
The acquisition gave Total access to reserves and resources of more than 500 million barrels of oil equivalent, with immediate production of around 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) and a significant exploration potential in the prolific Sirte Basin, the French company said at the time, noting that the acquisition was part of its strategy to reinforce its portfolio with high quality and low-technical cost assets.
However, just over a year later, the security situation in Libya has worsened as eastern strongman General Khalifa Haftar ordered last month his Libyan National Army (LNA) to march on the capital Tripoli. The self-styled army has been clashing with troops of the UN-backed government in a renewed confrontation that could escalate and threaten to disrupt, once again, Libya’s oil production and exports.
In this situation, the relations between the UN-backed Libyan government based in Tripoli and France have recently soured because France has ties to both the GNA and Haftar.
In the middle of April, the GNA said that it would suspend security cooperation with France, accusing the country of backing Haftar.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of Libya’s internationally recognized National Oil Corporation (NOC), said at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston on Wednesday that “the Tripoli assault and ongoing hostilities are a direct threat to Libyan oil sector development and procurement.”