Libya will reopen its oil sector to new foreign investments according to the state-run oil company’s boss despite the political situation in the country remaining turbulent.

Speaking at a London conference on Tuesday (Jan 24) Libyan National Oil Co Chairman Mustafa Sanallah admitted he had been waiting for a “legitimate government with a mandate from the people to come to power” before allowing foreign investment again.

But that has not materialised he believed a new way must be found to encourage investors. “We cannot stand back and do nothing while the state disintegrates,” Mr. Sanallah said in a speech at the Chatham House, a think tank.

The Wall Street Journal covered his speech saying Libya froze all new foreign investment in 2011 after the civil war that toppled President Moammar Gadhafi. International oil companies such as Total SA of France and ConocoPhillips have long had operations in Libya, and Eni SpA of Italy have continued to operate despite militia fighting for control of parts of the state and the ISIS attacks, often aimed at the country's oil production centres.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr Sanallah said his company plans to increase crude oil output to one million barrels a day by April and to 1.25m barrels a day at year end. If executed, that level of production would represent a remarkable turnaround in a place where violence and the lack of a working government resulted in output falling below 200,000 barrels a day in 2016.

While new foreign investment likely won’t come fast enough to help with the production ramp up this year, Mr. Sanallah said it would help revive the long-term future of the country’s oil industry. According to him studies before the civil war had estimated Libya’s oil industry needed investment of $100 billion to $120 billion. He said he wants to return Libya to its prewar production level of 1.6 million barrels a day by 2022. Libya has proved crude oil reserves of more than 48 trillion barrels.
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