U.S. oil execs rush to renew ties with Libya

Saturday, February 28, 2004

U.S. oil executives are arriving over the weekend in Libya to discuss a resumption of business.

Industry sources and Libyan officials said representatives from several oil companies will begin streaming into the North African state over the next week. They include Amerada Hess, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and Occidental Petroleum. All of these companies were operating in Libya before U.S. sanctions froze their operations in 1986.

The return of the U.S. oil executives was facilitated by the lifting of the U.S. travel ban on Libya.

The sources said they expect the Bush administration to lift the ban on energy investments later in 2004, Middle East Newsline reported.

"While the ban on travel by U.S. persons is being lifted today," a U.S. Treasury Department statement said on Thursday, "the prohibitions on transportation-related activities, such as flights to Libya by U.S. air carriers, will remain in place at this time."

The administration has already allowed U.S. oil firms to negotiate lease renewals of holdings in Libya, many of which were scheduled to expire in 2005. Washington has also granted permission for companies to conduct technical inspections of properties in Libya.

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