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Financial Times: BLAIR IN LIBYA: British companies quick off the mark for deals


By Christopher Adams, Carola Hoyos and Guy Dinmore

Mar 26, 2004


Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant, yesterday led what is expected to be the first of several forays by British companies into Libya when it laid the foundations for a $200m-plus (109m) gas exploration deal.


The group said it would update existing onshore infrastructure and explore for untapped gas reserves.


The move came as analysts in Washington said that they believed the Bush administration, in the coming weeks or months, would rescind the executive orders of the 1980s that imposed a comprehensive trade embargo on Libya.


This would allow companies such as Marathon, ConocoPhillips, Amerada Hess and Occidental to resume operations.


Wynn Segal of the law firm, Akin Gump, said that Shell's move put it "ahead of the curve" and would add to the pressure on the US to respond.


BAE Systems, the aerospace group, is expected next month to conclude a deal to modernise Libya's civil aviation sector, providing radar and other equipment. An announcement could coincide with a visit to Tripoli by Mike O'Brien, the trade minister, who lead a delegation of business executives in April.


Britain and Libya have renewed commercial ties - Shell was active in Libya's energy sector from 1950s until 1974 - with remarkable speed.


Malcolm Brinded, chief executive officer of Shell Exploration and Production, was in Tripoli yesterday to unveil a "heads of agreement" for a strategic partnership with Libya. Talks on several projects would continue through this year.

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