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Mon 21 Feb 2011 03:06 PM

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Oil giant BP pulls staff out as Libya violence worsens

BP is evacuating families and staff as Libya warns of 'rivers of blood' if protests continue

Oil giant BP pulls staff out as Libya violence worsens
WORK SUSPENSION: BP suspended exploration work in the Libyan desert on concern that worsening unrest in the North African country will disrupt oil and gas production (Getty Images)

BP suspended exploration work in the Libyan desert and shares of Eni dropped on concern that worsening unrest in the North African country will disrupt oil and gas production.

BP, which has no producing assets in the country, is evacuating families and non-essential staff, spokesman David Nicholas said today. Eni, the largest foreign producer in the country, fell as much as three percent.

Saif Al Islam Qaddafi called on protesters against his father Muammar Qaddafi’s 41-year rule to engage in dialogue or face a civil war that risks the country’s oil wealth, warning that “rivers of blood will flow” if demonstrations continue.

Libya holds the the largest crude oil reserves in Africa. Brent crude oil rose to $104.60 a barrel, the highest since 2008.

Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corp, said he had no information about a disruption in production of crude. Al Jazeera reported earlier that Libya’s Nafoora oil field had stopped producing because of an employee strike.

OMV AG, Austria’s largest oil oil company, dropped as much as 4 percent and traded down 2.4 percent as of 10:02 a.m. in Vienna. OMV produced 34,000 barrels a day in Libya in the first nine months of 2010, making this OMV’s third-biggest production country after Romania and Austria.

Eni, which produced 244,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in Libya in 2009, was down 3.2 percent in Milan trading at 10:27 local time. The company also operates the Greenstream gas pipeline from Libya to Italy through the Mediterranean Sea.

Statoil ASA, the Norwegian energy producer, has closed its offices in Tripoli, Libya, spokesman Baard Glad Pedersen said by telephone today. Statoil participates in land-based oil production and exploration activities in the Mabruk field, operated by Total SA, and in the Murzuk basin, operated by Repsol YPF SA.

Repsol traded down 0.7 percent as of 10:28 a.m. in Madrid. BP rose 0.5 percent as of 10:28 a.m. in London.

Royal Dutch Shell said it has temporarily evacuated the families of expat workers in Libya. “We continue to monitor the situation in the country very closely,” said Kirsten Smart, a spokeswoman for Shell, by e-mail.

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