Monday, October 31, 2011

Libya's National Oil Co Takes Rare Step Of Disclosing Oil Deals


http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/10/28/libyas-national-oil-co-takes-rare-step-disclosing-oil-deals/

By Benoit Faucon & Iman Dawoud and Sarah Kent

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Libya's National Oil Co. this week took the unusual step of disclosing oil transactions--from fuel purchases to cooperation agreements with foreign giants--made by rebels during the civil war.

The new government, dominated by the opposition to Moammar Gadhafi after they toppled him in August, has said it wanted to break with what it sees as a legacy of opacity and mismanagement under the previous regime.

The documents offers an unprecedented insight into Libya's oil industry during the civil war, revealing the steps taken by the likes of Vitol Group and Repsol YPF SA (REP.MC) as they jockey for positions in the country holding Africa's largest oil reserves. In a statement accompanying hundreds of individual transactions spanning from March to Sept.15, NOC said they were published to apply "the principle of transparency in light of the new era heralded by the revolution of 17 February," the date of the beginning of the Libyan uprising.

The disclosures came after speculation over the terms of deals with Vitol and over discussions with foreign companies on services or security to NOC.

One document says the rebels examined competing bids submitted by foreign companies offering to sell fuel and Vitol made the most satisfactory proposal.

Crude--used in repayment for Vitol fuel supply--carried a $1.5 a barrel discount for Mediterranean delivery compared with the competing U.K. Brent contract and $4.4 a barrel if sent East of Suez. Vitol declined to comment on the disclosures.

Vitol also typically offered a premium of about $40 per ton for oil products supplies, according to the documents.

In a July 4 memorandum of understanding, a unit of Turkiye Petrolleri AO also offered to supply oil products. In the same document, NOC agreed to accept TPAO, which has exploration and production licences in Libya, "as an eligible partner to cooperate in oil field development, production, exploration etc. in the near future." TPAO didn't return a request for comment.

In a proposed, unsigned MoU, Repsol said it supplied food and medicine to rebel-held cities and offered fuel supplies, oil equipment and to help restart production in assets, including where it is not a titleholder.

A Repsol spokesman said the company "gladly provides aid, be it humanitarian or technical assistance, if we are in a position to do so."

The disclosure is unusual because though most national oil companies in Africa--such as Angola's Sonangol and Algeria's Sonatrach--do publish their accounts, they don't detail individual contracts or transactions.

With the disclosure, "businesspeople will be less likely to offer, and officials to demand, bribes if they know that it will be very difficult to square the accounts with a demanding public," said Robin Hodess, director for research and knowledge anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International. "This is one step to ensuring that Libya's citizens see more benefits from Libya's oil wealth," Hodess said, adding foreign companies should "match the disclosure by publishing their own payments."

(Ilan Brat in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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