LONDON (AFP) – British energy giant BP said Wednesday it will begin deep-water exploration drilling off the Libyan coast some time before the end of this year.
In late July, the company had said it would start drilling off the Libyan coast in a few weeks amid controversy over its 2007 deal with Tripoli and the oil firm’s role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“We are working on the last details and we are talking now about the second half of the year,” a BP spokesman said.
The 2007 accord allows BP to drill five wells in the Gulf of Sirte at depths of around 1,700 metres (5,500 feet), slightly deeper than the ruptured Gulf of Mexico well which BP has only just managed to seal.
The worst US environmental disaster on record prompted Washington to impose a moratorium on deep-water drilling while BP has said it has learned its lessons from the Gulf of Mexico disaster so as to avoid any repetition.
The Libyan deal has also come under a lot of US criticism, with many suspecting BP’s role in the release on compassionate grounds of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, who was convicted of blowing up a US airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.
The Scottish government decided to release him from prison last year on compassionate grounds because he was thought to have only a few months to live due to his terminal prostate cancer.
Megrahi is still alive in Libya.