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PGNiG to return to Libya for first time since civil war

The Polish company could resume operations this month, after leaving due to conflict

Polish oil and gas company PGNiG will resume operations in Libya for the first time since the civil war, the company said.

Speaking in Vienna, Jacek Gutowski, the vice president of the company’s board, said PGNiG could begin operations this month.

“Yesterday I received information that our lawyers and NOC (Libya’s National Oil Company) lawyers reached an agreement which will be signed next week and we will be formally back in Libya,” Gutowski said.

Worries about Libya’s security situation had been the main obstacle to the company’s return, Gutowski said. But he added that the company had found a “very good solution”, providing foreign training to the country’s defence ministry allowing it to “give us protection in our offices and during our operations in the field”.

PGNiG bought acreage in two blocks in Southwest Libya’s Murzuq basin in 2007. The company, which is 70% owned by the Polish government, was forced to suspend exploration in February 2011 when the Libyan civil war broke out.

Poland, which wants to break its dependence on Russian energy, is seeking to diversify its supply of natural gas through new domestic unconventional energy development and international conventional projects. Last year Poland imported 5.3bn cubic metres (cm) of gas, all of which came from Russia. Libya’s conventional natural gas reserves are pegged at 1.6 trillion cm, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

“We have a good relationship with our Russian partner Gazprom, however it is wise not to rely on just one (supply) direction so we are looking for other opportunities for gas supply for our country,” Gutowski said. “It was not a question of whether we would come back to Libya but how and when we would come back.”

PGNiG is planning to drill four exploration wells in Libya in 2013 and to continue the seismic work it halted last year.

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