Oil Minister calls on Saudis to invest in Libyan oil industry (Libya Herald, 04/02/2013)

Minister of Oil and Gas Abdulbari Al-Arusi has called on Saudi companies to invest in the Libyan oil industry. He made the call yesterday, while in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Region, the centre of the country’s oil industry. Meeting with local businessmen involved in the industry, he told them there were plenty promising investment opportunities in the oil sector.

Arousi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday, accompanied by Samir Kamal, Director of Planning and Follow-up, and Ahmed Altagda, Director of the Minister’s Office. The delegation is on an official visit to discuss areas of cooperation between the two countries, in particular development and investment in the oil and gas industry.
Officials say that the absence of Saudi investors in Libya and those of other Arab countries has been evident. Western businessman, Arusi noted, have been rushing in and fostering business relationships, while Arab investors were cautious to even visit.
On arrival in Jeddah, the officials were received by the Libyan Consul-General and delegate for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Mohamed Hamrouni, and from the Saudi side, Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sultan Bin Jamal Shawli as well as the President of the Saudi Geology Survey, Zuhair bin Abdulhafiz Nawab.
On Saturday, the delegates toured the the Eastern Province headquarters in Dhahran of the Saudi state oil giant, Aramco, where they met with its CEO Khalid Al-Falih. They were briefed on the various branches of the company.

It is reported during the visit that the Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Ali Al-Naimi, had expressed his personal willingness and that of Saudi Arabia to support Libya on its journey to progress and prosperity. Arusi thanked the Kingdom for its support for the revolution, adding that Qaddafi’s past actions to sabotage the relationship between the two countries were foolish and irresponsible.

(In 2003, Qaddafi tried to have King Abdullah, then Crown Prince, assassinated after a spat at an Arab Summit. Again at an Arab Summit, in Doha in 2009, Qaddafi brought ridicule on himself when he questioned King Abdullah’s regal title, boasting that he was far more important: “I am the leader of the Arab leaders, the King of Kings of Africa and the Imam of the Muslims.”)

In his meeting with Eastern Province businessmen yesterday, Arusi also called on other Gulf businessmen to invest in Libya. He said its oil sector could be developed and assisted by their experience in oil exploration and production. However, he pointed out that Libya would have to change current legislation limiting foreign investment. Current regulations hindered the economic and technical growth of the sector, he said.

In a report in Al Hayat newspaper, Arusi was quoted saying that favourable laws to attract investors, such as exempting foreign investors from taxes for a period of five years with an option to extend for three years, were among major suggestions being considered by the Libyan authorities.

He is also reported to have disclosed during the meeting with businessmen from Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province, that a Saudi businessman had been in preliminary talks to invest $67 million for a cement factory and another $54 million for a sugar factory, both in Misrata. The city was chosen because of its free trade zone; the investor is supposedly looking to export from Libya to Europe.

While visiting the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, the Libyan delegation was assured by the university’s rector, Khaled Al-Sultan, that Libyan students would be welcome to study there.

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