TRIPOLI, (Reuters) – Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) ratified an exploration agreement with Exxon Mobil on Wednesday, setting terms by which the U.S. supermajor will explore for hydrocarbons off the Libyan coast.
Exxon will drill at least one exploration well in offshore Area 21 and committed to a minimum work programme involving 4,000 square kilometres of two-dimensional seismic surveying and 2,000 square kilometres of 3D surveying, NOC officials said.
Exxon agreed to invest $97 million in the project and to pay a signature bonus of $72 million.
It would pay a further $25 million to fund training programmes or scholarships for Libyan citizens during the exploration period and $3 million to improve schools in Libya.
It follows similar deals in recent days between NOC and foreign firms that won concessions in December in Libya’s first gas-focused exploration licensing round.
Libya wants to become a major gas producer and aims to raise production to 3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) by 2010, with a potential for 3.8 bcfd by 2015, up from 2.7 bcfd now.
Demand for its gas has grown as Europe seeks to curb its dependence on Russia and because gas produces less of the carbon emissions blamed for global warming.