UK trade minister begins business talks in Libya

AP News
Posted: Sep 26, 2011 2:36 PM
UK trade minister begins business talks in Libya

The British trade minister said Monday that his country's businesses are eager to take part in the rebuilding of Libya, but that he does not expect preferential treatment in return for the U.K.'s support of rebels.

Stephen Green said that a number of British businessmen took part in his meetings with Libya's new leaders and established businessmen to begin discussing future deals and contracts.

He said that he did not expect Libya to give the U.K. better bidding options or business advantages.

"They (Libyans) are appreciative of the role the UK played, but do we have better options? No," Green said.

Energy giants Shell and British Petroleum, as well as oil and gas consultancy firm AMEC were among the businesses that accompanied the trade minister for talks in Libya.

Libya's economic future could hinge on the performance of its lucrative oil and gas sectors, of which production was ground to a near standstill during the past six months of civil war.

Libya sits atop Africa's largest proven reserves of conventional crude, raking in $40 billion in revenue last year from oil and gas exports. Still, experts say it could take more than a year to get Libya back to its prewar production rate of 1.6 million barrels per day.

Green said that while it's not too early to talk business in Libya, no contracts will be signed until an elected government is in place.

"No strategic decisions will be made until there is a proper constitution and a legal government," Green said.