France announces $500 million upgrade for Libya oil platform
PARIS - French firm Technip has signed a preliminary contract worth more than $500 million (557 million euros) to rebuild a major oil drilling platform off the coast of Libya, officials said Tuesday.
Technip signed the letter of intention in Paris with Mellitah Oil and Gas, a joint venture between Libya's National Oil Corporation and Italy's Eni.
The drilling platform lies in the offshore Bahr Essalam oil field, 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the capital Tripoli.
"The project demonstrates the desire of French companies to contribute to the petroleum sector, the backbone of the Libyan economy," France's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, estimated at 48 billion barrels, and rebuilding the energy sector is a top priority for the new UN-backed unity government.
Since the 2011 civil war that brought down long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, production has fallen from around 1.5 million barrels per day to 300,000.