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Reference ID Subject Created Released Classification Origin
06TOKYO3567 Japan Backs Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Proposal TOKYO 00003567 001.2 OF 002 2006-06-28 2011-02-03 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tokyo
08LONDON1586 U/S JEFFERY AND A/S O’BRIEN PRESS UK ON IRANIAN 2008-06-09 2011-02-02 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy London
08TRIPOLI474 ENI'S OIL AND GAS DEAL EXTENDED, OTHER COMPANIES WORRY TERMS WILL SET A NEW (UNFAVORABLE) PRECEDENT REF: 07 TRIPOLI 912 1. (SBU) Summary: Soaring oil prices are allowing Libya to press for more stringent long-term contracts with foreign oil and gas producers. A twenty-five year extension for Italian firm Eni North Africa BV, which entailed a sizeable bonus payment and dramatically reduced the company's production share, was recently ratified after lengthy negotiations. The potential impact of Eni's deal is significant. Local observers expect that the National Oil Company's (NOC) success in securing very favorable terms will embolden it to pursue renegotiation of existing contracts with other international oil companies (IOCs). Despite Libya's relatively unique position in terms of unproven reserves, high quality oil and low recovery costs, observers here expect that some IOC's facing potentially long renegotiation periods and dramatically reduced production shares may choose to abandon production efforts in Libya. End summary. EPSA MODEL TIME-TESTED 2. (SBU) Libya's Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) rubric has been the most widely used model for producers in Libya since 1974. Under these agreements, international oil companies (IOCs) receive a fixed percentage of output from the fields involved based on the terms of their bid to explore and develop Libyan acreage. The terms of these agreements, particularly the share of overall production retained by companies, have grown increasingly less favorable to IOCs. Intense competition among foreign oil and gas companies to book reserves in Libya, widely perceived to be one of the relatively few places in the world with significant unproven reserves of sweet, light crude and natural gas, has fueled the trend towards less profitable EPSA's. 3. (SBU) As a point of comparison, the standard production share allocation for IOCs in the latest EPSA round (EPSA IV) has been 10-12% of overall production, down from production share allocations of 20% or more that were typical in earlier EPSA rounds. IOC's have accepted stiffer terms based on their high expectations of Libya's hydrocarbon producing potential, the comparatively low cost of oil recovery in Libya, the generally high quality of Libyan crude, Libya's close proximity to European markets and rapidly rising oil and gas prices. Encouraged by the willingness of some IOC's to accept production shares as low as 7 percent under the EPSA IV framework, the NOC - led by former Prime Minister Shukhri Ghanem, reputedly a hard bargainer - has been pressing all IOC's to accept further reductions in their production share allocations to increase Libya's take. Striking a nationalist tone, Muammar al-Qadhafi explicitly referred in his June 11 speech on the occasion of the "evacuation" of U.S. and British military bases in Libya to efforts to renegotiate EPSA contracts as a manifestation of Libya's continued resolve to resist Western imperialism. AT LONG LAST, ENI FINALIZES ITS CONTRACT EXTENSION 4. (SBU) In October 2007, ENI agreed with the NOC to convert its existing long-term production contracts, which were signed in the mid-1980s under EPSA III terms, to the most recent contractual model under EPSA-IV (reftel). That deal was submitted to Libya's General People's Congress for approval and ratification and was ratified on June 12. Under the new deal, Eni reduced its production share to 12% for oil (down from 35-50 percent for its various fields) and 40% for natural gas (down from 50 percent). The share for gas production will drop to 30% after 2018. In exchange, the NOC extended Eni's EPSA III contracts by 25 years, approved a 3 billion cubic meter (BCM) expansion to the Western Libya Gas Pipeline (WLGP), and the construction of a new 4 million tons per annum LNG facility at Mellitah. Eni accepted less attractive fiscal terms on its blocks (its overall portfolio has fallen by 42% due to lower production share figures), and made a $1 billion non-recoverable payment. Eni's licenses were converted to the EPSA IV model and will now expire in 2042 (for oil) and 2047 (for gas). OTHER DEALS IN THE OFFING? 5. (SBU) Several other major extensions are anticipated in the coming months, including those involving U.S. firm Occidental TRIPOLI 00000474 002 OF 002 Petroleum (along with Austrian partner OMV) and Petro-Canada. Those agreements were signed with the NOC in late 2007, but still require GPC ratification. It is possible the NOC will seek further concessions in light of its deal with Eni. Spain's Repsol and the NOC are renegotiating along the EPSA IV contractual model. The initial deal between Repsol YPF and NOC stipulated a 50-50 split of production; however, the NOC is now seeking a minimum production share of 72 percent. 6. (SBU) The NOC has approached numerous other IOCs about extensions, raising the possibility that it will reopen deals that were only concluded a few years ago. Even the U.S. Oasis Group (comprising Amerada-Hess, Marathon and ConocoPhillips), which paid $1.8 billion in December 2005 to return to acreage in Libya's Sirte Basin that it held before the suspension of U.S.-Libyan diplomatic ties and the imposition of U.S. and UN sanctions, may be affected. Libya's relatively modest 59.2 percent production share in that deal has generated preliminary probing by the NOC as to whether the Oasis Group would consider renegotiating, which it has so far successfully opposed. 7. (SBU) Comment: With ratification of its revised EPSA contract, Eni has secured a long-term position in Libya, but at a considerable price. Part of the calculus for Eni and other IOC's is the expectation that oil and gas prices are likely to remain high, making non-recoverable bonus payments and lesser production shares tenable from the standpoint of their projects' overall profitability. It is widely expected that the NOC will push hard to renegotiate other extant deals and extensions that involve reduced production shares for IOCs. Its confidence buoyed by favorable market conditions, Libya is playing hardball with the IOC's, sending a clear message that no deal is beyond renegotiation, no matter how recently concluded or how favorable the terms for the NOC. Libya and the IOC's have been here before: a spate of renegotiations and extensions occurred in the late-1960s and early 1970s, driven in part by the then-new al-Qadhafi regime to demonstrate to its people that it was a better steward of Libya's hydrocarbon resources than the Sanussi monarchy had been. As during that period, the current penchant for shifting the goalposts has not been well-received by the IOCs. Despite Libya's relatively unique position in terms of unproven reserves, high quality oil and low recovery costs, observers here expect that some IOCs facing potentially long renegotiation periods (and associated costs of idle personnel and materiel) and diminished production returns may choose to abandon altogether their production efforts in Libya. End comment. STEVENS 2008-06-17 2011-02-01 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI540 CHEVRON MAY QUIT LIBYA 2008-07-08 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI563 OXY'S 30-YEAR EXTENSION IN LIBYA AND WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR OTHER IOCS REF: A) TRIPOLI 555 B) 2007 TRIPOLI 983 TRIPOLI 00000563 001.2 OF 003 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: The long-awaited ratification of Oxy's contract extension in Libya has solidified its position as one of Libya's leading oil and gas players. The process by which the contract was finalized has shed light on what lies ahead for other foreign companies, all of whom are expected to be approached soon to sign similar deals. The extensions contain considerable benefits, including higher profits, anti-corruption measures and less state company obstructionism; however, they contain lower production shares and reduced bookable reserve levels, and mandate a heavy reliance on the thinly-stretched National Oil Corporation. Given projections for steadily rising global energy costs, it remains to be seen how long the new contracts will remain in place without amendment. End Summary. 2. (C) Following the well-publicized announcement of Occidental Petroleum's (Oxy) extension in Libya (Ref A), post's Econoff and Econ/Commercial Assistant sat down with John Winterman (protect), Oxy's Country Manager for Libya, to discuss the negotiation process and contract terms, and assess the playing field for other international oil companies (IOCs) active in Libya. Winterman's experience in his current position and former tenure as Oxy's Worldwide Exploration Manager for 7 years makes him one of the most knowledgeable observers of Libya's energy sector. DONE DEAL - AT LAST 3. (C) Winterman confirmed the general contract terms outlined in press reports. Oxy and its partner OMV (Austria) signed a total of five Exploration and Production Sharing (EPSA) contracts with Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) on June 23. The contracts were based on terms of a "Heads of Agreement" memoranda signed between Oxy's Chairman and NOC Chairman Shukri Ghanem on November 24, 2007 (ref B). As reported in the press, Oxy paid a $1 billion signature bonus as part of the deal, and has committed to $2.5 billion (split 75/25 for Oxy/OMV) investment plan, with the NOC matching an equal amount for investment. Oxy intends to drill some 400 wells starting in 2011, requiring a minimum of 12-15 rigs working full-time. The contract extension allows them to bring in 50 additional staff, including 16 Amcits, all of whom already have their visas and residency permits. 4. (C) A two-person NOC negotiating team worked on all three agreements (Eni, Petro-Canada and Oxy). The NOC's driving force behind the negotiation process was Assam Ali Elmessallati, who bears the title Committee Member for Investment and Joint Venture Follow-Up. According to Winterman, Elmessallati stalled negotiations with Eni (the first of the three agreements that the NOC tackled), pulling a near-final agreement off the table in order to conduct further "internal reviews". According to Winterman, Elmessallati conducted "an internal socialization process" in which he circulated the agreement broadly to get as many Libyan government "fingerprints" on the deal as possible. His past role as architect of the EPSA IV process likely informed the effort, which garnered enough buy-in for the deal to move forward without the threat of last-minute opposition from parties who would have gone unconsulted absent his efforts. Winterman also noted that it was vital that these new EPSA deals be presented General People's Committee (Cabinet-equivalent) as "extensions" verses, as opposed to new deals that would have to be re-bid from scratch. NEW TERMS ARE BROADLY BENEFICIAL 5. (C) The IOCs' previous deals were based on a fixed margin, meaning that companies were somewhat insulated from fluxuations in the market price of oil by receiving a fixed price for every barrel produced. The new EPSA deals, while resulting in a lower overall production share for the IOCs, removes that fixed margin, allowing companies to reap higher profits per barrel when oil prices are high. That, together with the fact that the NOC will now cover the costs for all taxes, royalties and fees, results in the IOCs making a great deal more money per barrel of oil produced. Winterman assesses that the IOCs will get their money back (i.e. signature bonuses and investment requirements) very quickly under the new EPSA deals, as greater revenue driven by high oil prices will generate rapid reimbursement of their outlays. TRIPOLI 00000563 002.2 OF 003 6. (C) An additional element of the new terms is that the ties between the IOCs and their local Libyan operating partners (Zuetina in Oxy/OMV's case) are less direct, in two distinct ways. Development plans for existing fields are now no longer run through the Libyan operators, but have been negotiated directly with the NOC under the new agreements. This means that traditional Libyan national company resistance to new investment and technologies (i.e., the much lamented tendency to keep things "the old way") have been swept aside, paving the way (with NOC approval) for more ambitious field development that should boost Libya's national production much more quickly. (Note: The NOC claims it will increase national production from a current level of 1.75 million bbl/day to 3 million bbl/day figure by 2012-15. End note.). The new EPSA framework has a substantial new anti-corruption measure that will prevent state-run companies (infamous for skimming off the top of contracts) from being involved in the tendering process. The new tendering arrangement will be between IOC and NOC representatives only, so the state-run companies have been frozen out entirely. This new arrangement creates "Joint Project Teams" that should reduce the potential for graft, while at the same time allowing for faster work rates through a streamlined decision-making and tendering process. Finally, the EPSA agreements incorporate robust IOC-provided training programs for Libyan nationals, which should help to ensure the creation of Libya's next generation of energy sector experts. TWO SHORTCOMINGS: BOOKED RESERVES SHARE SMALLER . 7. (C) The new contracts, which feature lower production shares (now in the 10-12% range, down from 20% or higher), mean that companies can no longer "book reserves" (i.e., demonstrate to stockholders that they are contractually guaranteed to have access to a proven quantity of oil and gas) to the degree that they have in the past. This creates a new paradigm for Libya that is playing out worldwide in a growing number of oil-producing countries where the state and its energy authority are demanding tough terms for in-country IOCs. Winterman assesses that this trade-off between booked reserves and profit is creating a new system where the old rules no longer apply; the thinking of IOCs' stockholders will have to evolve to reflect the fact that their companies' stock values should be evaluated differently in an environment where reserves are harder to replace. Because this new way of thinking is still evolving, lowered production shares have the potential to hurt companies' stock prices in the short term. 8. (C) An additional consideration in this regard is the recent surge of interest in Libya on the part of non-Western IOCs (particularly from India, Japan, Russia and China), who have won the bulk of concessions in the NOC's recent acreage bid rounds. These government-owned companies are driven by the desire to book reserves to assure supply to their domestic markets in the years to come. Assuming that their exploration of Libyan acreage bears fruit in the discovery of exploitable reserves, they may find that NOC terms allow them to book less in reserves that they had hoped. With that prospect in the offing, the interest of companies primarily concerned with booking reserves may wane as they consider making the jump to producing entities. ..AND GREATER NOC INVOLVEMENT NOT A PANACEA 9. (C) Although the new agreements carry substantial benefits, the more central involvement of the NOC does not by itself guarantee more efficient operations. Winterman stressed that the NOC is still more concerned with "price over performance," and can often be a difficult sell when it comes to using the latest (more expensive) technologies to generate efficiencies and augment output. He also questioned whether the NOC would be willing and able to hold up its end of the investment burden, as it has shown reluctance to make the kind of substantial re-investments in existing fields that their $2.5 billion commitment under the Oxy deal requires. Delays are likely, particularly given the NOC's haphazard budgeting process. For example, the NOC only received approval for the current year's budget in June, and even that approval only resulted in flatlined spending along the same lines as the previous year. Also, although the NOC retains many skilled technocrats with long experience and educational ties to the U.S., that group represents a dying breed (nearing retirement age), and the NOC's TRIPOLI 00000563 003.2 OF 003 bench strength is being rapidly depleted as many of its best personnel take more lucrative opportunities in the private sector in Libya and abroad. The fact that the Eni, Petro-Canada and Oxy deals were hammered out using a common text reinforces the notion that the NOC is seeking to simplify the terms under which companies operate, in part because of its own limited institutional capacity. NEXT ON THE BLOCK: EVERYONE ELSE 10. (C) Winterman was confident in predicting that Repsol (Spain), Wintershall (Germany) and TOTAL (France) were the next IOCs who would be forced to extend their presence in Libya via the signing of new EPSA agreements. After that, the next major set of operators will be the companies of the Oasis Group, composed of U.S. firms ConocoPhillips, Marathon and Hess. This NOC approach is reportedly on the horizon, despite the fact that the Oasis companies paid $1.8 billion in December 2005 to reclaim their former Sirte basin acreage in concert with local operator Waha (the eponymous Libyan state-run oil company that took over the fields when they left) following two years of negotiations with the NOC. The Waha-Oasis group currently produces about 350,000 bbl/day, roughly one-fifth of Libya's total oil output. Econoff has been told separately by the Country Managers of both ConocoPhillips and Marathon that senior NOC officials have hinted that a new deal with the Oasis group should be negotiated soon. 11. (C) This will present a unique challenge for the Oasis group, as the two major shareholders (CP and Marathon) reportedly have very different corporate priorities in Libya. For Marathon, whose booked Libyan production accounts for some 60% of the company's worldwide total, a reduction in production rate under an EPSA could have serious repercussions for the company's share price. On the other hand, ConocoPhillips is judged to have sufficient worldwide booked reserves that a drop in its production share would not be such a major blow, and its overall size puts it in a better position to reinvest the greater financial returns stemming from a new deal. Both would benefit from being freed from the intransigence to change shown by their counterparts in Waha (who routinely deflect their proposals for field development projects), but it may prove difficult for the Oasis partners to adopt a shared approach when the NOC begins to press in earnest for a extension of their presence. 12. (C) COMMENT: Although the concession extensions carry some positive aspects, the fact that the NOC may be prepared to reopen negotiations with the Oasis group is troubling. If the Waha consortium is forced to renegotiate after cementing a deal less than three years ago at a cost of $1.8 billion, can it - or any other IOC operating in Libya - reasonably expect that the new agreements will stand the test of time? Given the GOL's political approach to economic policymaking, as well as its penchant for extracting maximum concessions for production of its hydrocarbon resources, how long would revenue from oil that could hit $175 or $200/bbl oil be allowed to accrue to foreign companies before the GOL would (again) seek a larger cut? While the answer to that question remains to be seen, it is clear is that the recent contract extensions have set Eni, Petro-Canada and Oxy apart as leaders in the Libyan energy sector. It is expected that they will account for at least 55% of Libya's total oil production if the terms of their contracts are fulfilled. End comment. GODFREY. 2008-07-13 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI584 LIBYAN FOREIGN BANK - PRIMED FOR EXPANSION REF: A) GODFREY-MCKEEHAN EMAIL 7/15/2008, B) TRIPOLI 214, C) TRIPOLI 230, D) TRIPOLI 126, E) TRIPOLI 199, F) TRIPOLI 227 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: The Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB), Libya's longtime conduit for international trade, is pursuing a substantial program of expansion involving a ten-fold increase in its capitalization and creation of an onshore bank. Its chairman is aggressively seeking new investment opportunities in Africa and beyond, and is contemplating whether and how to get into the U.S. market. The LFB recently doubled its capitalization of Bahrain-based Alubaf Bank, of which it has a 95 percent share. Regarding much-anticipated GOL reform initiatives, the LFB's Chairman expects a reprise of past efforts that featured form over substance. End Summary. 2. (SBU) CDA and Econoff met with Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Bayt Almal, Chairman of the Libyan Foreign Bank (formerly known as the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank) on July 16 to discuss recent changes at the LFB and its plans for the future. Established in 1972 as an offshore bank, the LFG has been Libya's leading institution for transactions essential to the conduct of international trade (issuing letters of credit, providing currency exchange services, etc.). The LFB has historically been the only Libyan bank that handled foreign currency accounts; Bayt Almal confirmed that it still does not possess any Libyan dinar-denominated accounts. ALUBAF BANK 3. (C) CDA asked about press reports detailing recent initiatives made by Bahrain-based Alubaf Arab International Bank. Bayt Almal confirmed that a proposal to double Alubaf's capital to $100 million and to appoint Bayt Almal to the Board of Directors were approved by shareholders in a meeting on July 9. He offered that Alubaf Bank nearly collapsed after a significant number of Iraqi-owned accounts were closed in 2003, but said the bank had since rebounded. He confirmed that the LFB owns a 95% share of Alubaf's Bahrain branch and 100% of its branch in Tunisia (ref A). Libya's Central Bank owns 100% of LFB, and is therefore the ultimate owner of Alubaf. DIVERSIFIED & SEEKING A PRESENCE IN THE U.S. 4. (SBU) The LFB's foreign interests are diverse and growing. It currently has "participation" (i.e., interests) in thirty-seven foreign entities located in twenty countries, from Mexico to China. Most of its interests are focused in sub-Saharan Africa, including every country in the Maghreb except Morocco. Bayt Almal estimated the LFB's current capital at $1 billion, with assets in excess of $21 billion worldwide. We had heard and reported previously that all Libyan government and financial institutions had divested themselves of holdings and accounts in the U.S. in response to potential seizure of assets under Section 1083 of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (the so-called Lautenberg Amendment. According to Bayt Almal, the LFB continues to hold U.S. dollar accounts and - despite efforts by the Libyan Investment Authority and other Libyan government entities to limit their exposure in the U.S. (ref B) - is actively exploring the possibility of establishing a "strategic partnership" with a major U.S. bank and investing in a U.S.-based bank. LAND HO: MOVING ONSHORE 5. (SBU) Bayt Almal said that the LFB planned to open an onshore bank in Libya soon, contingent on approval by its parent institution, the Central Bank (CB). A plan currently before CB Governor Farhat Ben Gdara calls for a ten-fold expansion of the LFB's capital, from $1 billion to $10 billion. Conceding that LFB had aimed high, Bayt Almal said he would be happy with $6-7 billion, and expected to get it. Part of the justification for expanded capitalization involves establishing an onshore entity, which would allow LFB to diversify the range of products it offers in the Libyan market. With the continuing reform of the Libyan banking system, to include the purchase of stakes in Libyan banks by foreign entities (refs C, D), the LFB wants to ensure that it will remain competitive. It intends to inaugurate risk management and asset management services, which would both be entirely new service lines for the bank. (Note: Risk management and asset management are areas CB Governor Ben Gdara told us are most in need of help. End note.) In anticipation of this step, the LFB has expanded its training TRIPOLI 00000584 002 OF 002 efforts, sending employees abroad for hands-on training at partner institutions in Europe (Britain, France, Belgium, and Germany) and the Middle East (Jordan and the UAE). Bayt Almal cited a dearth of trained employees as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to banking reform in Libya. AL-QADHAFI'S PROPOSED GOVERNMENT REFORMS - "FORM OVER SUBSTANCE" 6. (C) Responding to a question about expected privatization and government restructuring stemming from Muammar al-Qadhafi's dramatic speech to the General People's Congress on March 2 (refs E, F), Bayt Almal wearily noted that Libya had "been through this before". He referred to his own experience in 2000, when the Libyan Cabinet underwent wholesale changes, leaving only Bayt Almal (then the Finance Minister) and the Foreign Minister in a "Prime Minister-plus two" formulation. During that round of reform, other ministries were re-labeled as "Haya" (translated as "institution" or "entity"). Despite the semantics, the old structures were essentially left in place. Bayt Almal expected a similar outcome at the end of the current reform exercise. He predicted that foreign affairs, defense, finance and the security services would be left intact in their current guises as "sovereign ministries" that would report directly to the Prime Minister-equivalent, a formulation al-Qadhafi himself hinted at in his March 2 address. 7. (C) Biographical Note: Bayt Almal was born in Egypt in 1948 and spent his childhood in Benghazi, despite the fact that his family originally hails from Misurata. He spent 1970-1978 in U.S., where he obtained an MA in accounting (in Muncie, Indiana) and PhD (at the University of Kentucky in Lexington) in finance. He then returned to Libya, where taught accounting at Garyounis University in Benghazi before serving as Secretary of Finance (1992-2000) and Auditor General (2003-2005). Various sources report that he served a three-year prison sentence in 2000-2003 in connection with an embezzlement case in Benghazi (Emboffs were not able to corroborate this story during their office call). Bayt Almal was married in 1970 while in the U.S., and he has seven daughters (two of them AmCits by birth), all of whom currently reside in/around Misurata. End biographical note. GODFREY 2008-07-21 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI595 A COMMERCIAL CAUTIONARY TALE: BECHTEL'S BID FOR SIRTE PORT PROJECT FALLS FLAT CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b) 1. (C) Summary: An unsuccessful year-long bid by U.S. firm Bechtel to build a commercial port in the Libyan city of Sirte has shed light on how decisions about large foreign investment projects in Libya are made. Bechtel's bid went through several evolutions, including signing a memorandum of understanding with the Prime Minister and a resolution by Libya's Cabinet-equivalent to give the company the contract. In the end, the contract evaporated after apparent late-innings intervention by senior regime figures. Despite a year's worth of effort, $1 million worth of expenses, numerous high-level visits, and formal decisions by the GOL to bless the contract, the company's efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, underscoring the fact that Libya's much-trumpeted bidding process is less than transparent, and that the GOL's formal structures do not have the final word on major foreign investment projects. The fact that an operator with Bechtel's savvy and deep pockets was ultimately unable to secure its contract serves as a cautionary tale for the many U.S. and western companies seeking to enter Libya's booming market. End summary. PROMISING BEGINNINGS ... 2. (C) U.S. engineering and consulting giant Bechtel has just declared as dead a year-long attempt to secure a $1 billion cost-plus contract to build a commercial port in the Libyan city of Sirte. Bechtel began its pursuit of the Sirte port contract in July 2007, when senior Bechtel representative Charles Redman (strictly protect), former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, arrived in Tripoli for discussions at the invitation of the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), a quasi-governmental entity headed by Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi. During the initial visit, QDF representatives encouraged Bechtel to bid on several small infrastructure projects so the company could "prove itself". Redman made it clear that Bechtel wanted, but did not need, business in Libya and had a record that spoke for itself. Eventually, QDF representatives invited Bechtel to execute two projects: a new commercial port facility at Sirte and management of an industrial city adjacent to the Ras Lanuf oil facility. The QDF proposed that Bechtel partner with the Libyan Economic and Social Development Fund (ESDF) to execute the Sirte Port project. 3. (C) This initial burst of positive energy dissipated over the next six months. Bechtel slowly made progress on a contract for the Sirte port project, but its relationship with General People's Committee (GPC) for Transportation, its primary interlocutor on the deal (apart from the QDF), became increasingly difficult. This primarily manifested itself in a lack of responsiveness on facilitation of visas for Bechtel representatives, prompting Bechtel to seek support from other quarters of the Government of Libya (GOL) to facilitate travel by its negotiators and technical staff. In November 2007, then Deputy Foreign Minister Muhammed Siala remarked publicly during a visit to Washington that Bechtel would not secure the Sirte port contract if Secretary Rice failed to visit Libya by year's end. LEAD TO HIGH-PROFILE COMMITMENTS 4. (C) After months of go-slow negotiations, Bechtel experienced an apparent breakthrough in February, when Redman received an urgent call from Minister of Transportation Elmabruk, who asked that the company's team be in Sirte on February 25 to "sign the contract". Although the company was still in the midst of conducting a laborious due diligence review of the contract (key provisions of which had not been finalized), they were convinced to rush a delegation to Sirte in time for a signing event. At that event, Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and Bechtel signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing the two sides to finalizing the contract as soon as possible. In addition, the General People's Committee (Cabinet-equivalent) issued Decision #158 on March 3, which was effectively an announcement of contract terms that granted permission to the GPC for Transportation to sign a contract with Bechtel. Following these public steps by the GOL, Bechtel reported that the GPC for Transportation appeared to be working in earnest to finalize an English-language version of the contract. RADIO SILENCE BROKEN BY BAD NEWS FROM SAIF AL-ISLAM'S INTERMEDIARY TRIPOLI 00000595 002 OF 002 5. (C) With expectations running high that a final deal was imminent, Bechtel pressed on with negotiations and a fully-vetted contract was presented to the Transportation Minister in early May. From that point on, all communication with the QDF, GPC for Transportation and Libyan Ports Authority (another key player in the deal) went dead. Sensing that something was amiss, Bechtel representatives continued to inquire about that status of the contract, but received no response. On July 14, Abdulhakim el-Ghami, described as "an intermediary for a person very close to Saif al-Islam", called Redman to inform him that the port project had been canceled. (Note: Redman told us el-Ghami, who is based in Munich, appears to be a key conduit for Saif al-Islam's dealings with foreign companies. End note.) Bechtel received no explanation as to why the contract was cancelled, but el-Ghami encouraged the company to "seriously consider" undertaking a different, unspecified infrastructure development project. 6. (C) Comment: Bechtel's experience throws into stark relief the fact that economic and commercial decisions ostensibly finalized by even the most senior levels of the GOL can be overturned by influential elements operating outside the formal government structure. Libyan officials have made much of recent measures designed to ensure transparency and predictability in bids for commercial contracts; however, the reality is that contracts of any size, particularly those involving foreign companies, are subject to intense maneuvering by regime insiders jockeying to ensure that they company they happen to champion wins the prize. Bechtel's story also reinforces post's understanding of Saif al-Islam's key as a principal gatekeeper for large foreign investment projects in Libya, a process he manages through the QDF and the National Engineering Services and Supply Company (NESSCO - further details will be reported septel). The silver lining in this tale of woe is that Bechtel's power division has been awarded a project management job for construction of a new power plant outside Sirte; however, the sorry denouement of the company's efforts to secure the Sirte port contract have dampened its for seeking any new major projects in Libya in the near future and should serve as a cautionary tale for other U.S. companies considering major investment projects here. . GODFREY 2008-07-23 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI642 2008-08-12 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI676 ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER AVERTED: HOW LIBYA (MIS)HANDLED RECENT OIL TANK BLAZE REF: TRIPOLI 368 CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, State. REASON: 1.4 (d) 1. (SBU) Summary: On August 19, a storage tank for crude oil caught fire during routine maintenance operations in Ras Lanuf, the site of Libya's largest oil refinery and a petroleum port. The fire was isolated to one tank after burning for two days. There were no casualties and oil exports from the port of Ras Lanuf were not immediately affected. The long-term impact on production and the tank farm is not yet clear. The incident highlighted, however, shortcomings in the capacity of Libya's National Oil Company (NOC) and the Government of Libya to respond to such incidents. End Summary. 2. (C) According to Ian MacIntosh (strictly protect), General Manager of Petro-Canada in Libya, the fire began the morning of August 19 inside one of the thirteen tanks at the Ras Lanuf facility, and pressure caused by the fire helped prompt a leak of oil through a faulty valve at ground-level. Oil spread into a ditch, surrounded by a dirt berm encircling the tank. That oil then caught fire as well, further heating the tank from outside. The tank in which the fire began has a capacity of 460,000 bbl. The structural integrity of the tank remained intact; however, there were concerns about whether that would hold. MacIntosh noted that public remarks by NOC Chairman Shukhri Ghanem that most of the oil in the tank was from fields developed by Petro-Canada were misleading. Only 2-4% of the oil in the tank was Petro-Canada's; the rest was NOC oil. Ghanem has also said that production would have to be reduced from 70,000 to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd); however, McIntosh told PolEcon Chief that Petro-Canada has not yet concluded that such would be the case. 3. (SBU) While some 1,000 Libyan police, firefighters and NOC employees were on-site by the end of the day on August 20, the incident has underscored real limitations in the capacity of the NOC and the GOL to respond to such issues. According to press reports, Libya was already producing below its full capacity of 1.85 million barrels per day (bpd) before the fire, in part due to a drilling accident last May in an offshore field which cut output by 45,000 bpd (see reftel). In addition, maintenance on a pipeline for associated gas in the Sirte region has reduced output by 100,000 barrels a day since July. ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER AVERTED 4. (C) Coincidentally, a new Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) officer for Petro-Canada arrived in Libya the day just before the blaze. He was quickly dispatched to the scene. MacIntosh stressed that the biggest value the HSE officer added was not what he did (oil firefighting capabilities here are limited), but rather, what he prevented officials of the NOC and GOL from doing. At one point, they were seriously considering emptying the burning tank (about 200,000 bbls of oil were still in the tank at that point) into the adjoining desert, which would have been "an environmental nightmare." The HSE officer dissuaded them from carrying out this plan. AN INEFFECTIVE RESPONSE 5. (C) Comment: The reaction of the NOC and Libyan authorities has been judged by the tightly-knit community of international oil community (IOC) representatives here to have been ill-coordinated and ineffective, underscoring real limitations in the capacity of the NOC and the GOL to respond to such incidents. Efforts by the NOC to increase production from 1.8 million bpd to 3.0 million bpd will further stress the oil and gas infrastructure, much of which suffered for lack of maintenance during the period in which international sanctions against Libya were in place. End comment. STEVENS 2008-08-27 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI741 MINISTER OF ECONOMY POSITIVE ON BILATERAL ENGAGEMENT, CONCERNED ABOUT DOMESTIC REFORM PLANS TRIPOLI 00000741 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, Charge d'affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli. REASON: 1.4 (d) 1. (C) Summary: During a September 16 meeting, Dr. Ali al-Issawy, the Secretary of the General People's Committee for the Economy, Trade and Industry (equivalent of minister of economy and trade) told the CDA that he looked forward to the visit of Assistant Secretary of Commerce Israel Hernandez in October, and to finalizing the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. Commenting on GOL plans to distribute oil revenues directly to the public and to privatize Libya's public sector, al-Issawy expressed concern about the impact on prices and the Libyan work ethic. Al-Issawy said he was interested in pairing U.S. and Libyan universities, and requested U.S. experts visit Libya to advise on the mortgage market. End summary. WELCOMING A/S HERNANDEZ 2. (SBU) Minister al-Issawy said he looked forward to the planned visit of Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, Israel Hernandez in October. CDA, introducing the Embassy's new FCS officer, said the visit was intended to highlight the growing commercial relationship between the two countries, and to open the Embassy's U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service office. TIFA: WAITING FOR THE END OF RAMADAN 3. (SBU) Al-Issawy said he looked forward to finalizing the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). He suggested that his staff work directly with Embassy staff (in coordination with USTR) to finalize the agreement. He preferred to wait until after Ramadan to meet and go over any remaining points in the text. (Note: Embassy had previously sent the latest USTR-cleared draft to the ministry's lead negotiator, Mr. Dia Hammouda and his team). PLANS IN PROGRESS ON OIL WEALTH DISTRIBUTION 4. (C) Referring to Muammar al-Qadhafi's recent national day speech, the CDA asked about plans to distribute Libya's oil revenue directly to the public. The Minister expressed concern about inflation, noting they could not simply hand out cash. It would be preferable to distribute a combination of cash, securities and shares. He said the final decision on a framework for the distribution was not yet finished. Once the plan was finished, he believed it would be presented to the General People's Congress for final approval. "LIBYA HAS A CULTURE OF RENT, NOT WORK" 5. (C) Minister al-Issawy commented that some Libyans were already dreaming about using the money they will eventually receive to live in Tunisia or Malta (two favorite nearby holiday destinations). He added some students are already wondering about the utility of studying because they think they won't need to find jobs once the wealth distribution program starts. He attributed these attitudes to what he called Libya's "culture of rent" as opposed to a "culture of work." 6. (C) On the other hand, the Minister noted a wealth distribution plan could smooth the way for greater liberalization of the economy, especially in terms of lifting price controls and doing away with subsidies. His thinking was that if people have more disposable income, they will be able to afford unsubsidized goods. When asked when the program would start, he said teams were working "day and night" to finalize the wealth distribution program and the related privatization plans. MOVING AHEAD ON PRIVATIZATION AND LOOKING FOR U.S. PARTNERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION 7. (SBU) Minister al-Issawy said plans for privatizing key sectors of the economy, including health, education, utilities, and transportation were almost finished. The CDA said he had heard concerns from Libyans that they would be negatively affected by privatizing health and education, in particular. The Minister agreed these were the sectors that worried people the most. 8. (SBU) On higher education, in particular, the Minister said they were interested in joint ventures with U.S. universities, such as MIT. The CDA told him the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had raised a similar idea. He noted there were many models in the region for such collaboration, including in Dubai, Qatar, and Morocco. The CDA said the Embassy would provide him with more information on these partnerships. .AND ALSO LOOKING TO LEARN FROM THE U.S. MORTGAGE CRISIS TRIPOLI 00000741 002.2 OF 002 9. (SBU) The Minister also asked if the Embassy could provide an expert to speak about the mortgage situation in the U.S. since Libya plans to privatize the housing sector and make loans more broadly available to potential home-owners. He mentioned Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The CDA said he would look into potential U.S. experts to engage with the GOL. STEVENS 2008-09-19 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI803 U.S. FOREIGN COMMERCIAL SERVICE OPENS FOR BUSINESS IN LIBYA 1. (SBU) Summary: During his October 5 visit to Tripoli, Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Israel Hernandez officially opened the new Foreign Commercial Service office at the Embassy and discussed commercial opportunities with U.S. and Libyan business leaders and cooperation with senior Libyan government officials. Coming one month after Secretary Rice's historic trip to Libya, Libyan government representatives enthusiastically welcomed him, as did the small but growing Libyan private sector and representatives of U.S. firms in the energy, telecommunications, and construction sectors. The main messages to him were that there are significant commercial opportunities for American firms in Libya, but challenges still remain in terms of visas, and legal and bureaucratic obstacles. End summary. 2. (SBU) In a breakfast roundtable, the leaders of the major U.S. firms in Libya briefed A/S Hernandez on their activities here and described some of the challenges they face, such as procuring visas (both U.S. and Libyan) for employees and Libyan government trainees, and navigating the Libyan legal system. Most of the U.S. companies are involved in oil exploration, production and services, while others have contracts in the burgeoning construction sector (such as AECOM, based in Los Angeles). Some U.S. firms, such as Motorola, are seeking to enter the Libyan telecommunications sector. All the participants voiced complaints about visas, either for their U.S. staff (and their families) to reside in Libya or for their national staff and government partners to travel to the U.S. for training. Some said they believe the Libyan government is delaying the issuance of U.S. employees' visas because Libyans must still travel abroad (i.e., to Tunis) in order to apply for a U.S. visa. The Charge d'affaires pointed out there is a Business Visa program at post to facilitate visas for U.S. companies' Libyan employees and also informed the group the Embassy expects to expand visa issuance in Tripoli in 2009. 3. (SBU) Another concern of the U.S. businesses relates to the Libyan legal system. One general manager noted "nothing is written, so all is interpretation." He remarked that he believes Libya is even more litigious than the U.S. and since there are no international law firms and no internationally-trained lawyers, the companies have to rely on local legal counsel. As Libya has been isolated for 20 years, even legal firms based in the Middle East (such as in Dubai) have limited utility in Libya since they lack experience here. On the positive side, U.S. businesses have not had major problems importing materials for their operations, especially since most activities are tied to Libyan government entities, such as the National Oil Company (NOC). 4. (SBU) A/S Hernandez also met with the Libyan Businessmen Council, the main organization of Libya's nascent private sector. The Council welcomed the opening of an Embassy Commercial Office because they would like to do business with small- and medium-sized U.S. companies. Most of the American delegations they have seen were from large companies that dealt mainly with the Libyan government. Most of the Council's members, however, are smaller Libyan enterprises. One of the Libyan representatives for a major U.S. equipment provider noted the Libyan market is highly competitive and many European companies (French, German, Italians) never left Libya during the embargo years. It is therefore even more difficult for U.S. companies to enter or re-enter this market, he said. He did not foresee a "u-turn" on the part of the Libyans to nationalize the economy, as in the past, but he did see a need for a more aggressive U.S. approach to help U.S. businesses and to promote the education of Libyans in American universities, especially in medicine and technology. 5. (SBU) The next stop was the Libyan government's National Planning Council in which Under Secretary Mohamed Zidoun and his staff briefed A/S Hernandez on Libya's efforts to diversify its economy and to privatize government enterprises. The Assistant Secretary outlined the purpose of his trip to Libya, i.e. to open the new U.S. FCS office here, noting that Libya was one of the fastest growing markets for U.S. trade. He said the US already had a significant trade deficit with Libya (USD 2.9 billion) so the new FCS office would seek to increase U.S. exports to the Libyan market. Under Secretary Zidoun explained TRIPOLI 00000803 002 OF 002 the role of the National Planning Council as a Libyan "think tank" that prepares studies related to economic, commercial and trade policy. The proposed government restructuring aimed to provide better services to the population and to further development in education, technology, and healthcare. U/S Zidoun's staff would like to see Libya adopt U.S. models for an educational curriculum. Libya is also trying to diversify its "mono-source" economy so as to raise the standard of living. Libya sees itself as a potential transport hub (like Dubai) and in particular, seeks to be the "gateway" to the rest of Africa. Libya also wants to learn from the Gulf countries' experiences: "It is not enough to construct sky-scrapers but one must also train people to run the companies that occupy them." 6. (SBU) On privatization, the Planning Council emphasized "expanding the base of ownership." The Council has conducted studies on how to provide services to Libyans everywhere in the country via the municipalities (akin to counties in the U.S.). The goal is to provide wealth directly to citizens who may spend the money as they like. The Council's staff noted Libya has a relatively small population concentrated along the Mediterranean coast. Therefore, they think reforms are possible so that government will provide only the "basics." One Council member commented, "we cannot go back; we have suffered a lot and we are facing hard moments" in terms of "rebuilding our country" and engaging with the world. He said to A/S Hernandez, "we need your help in education and training" in order to rebuild Libya. 7. (SBU) Lastly, A/S Hernandez met with the Under Secretary of the General People's Committee (GPC) for Economy, Trade and Investment. Under Secretary Taher Sarkez and his staff explained the GPC's role in negotiating international trade agreements (such as the ongoing Trade and Investment Framework talks with USTR) and in promoting Libyan exports. A/S Hernandez extended an invitation to Under Secretary Sarkez to visit Commerce Department offices in the U.S. to learn about programs to assist small- and medium-sized businesses. Under Secretary Sarkez welcomed this opportunity. A/S Hernandez said the new FCS office would also work with Libyan businesses who were interested in participating in American trade shows and other networking opportunities in the U.S. U/S Sarkez noted the need to host more U.S. business groups in Libya and said Libya would probably need to issue more visas to Americans. Finally, U/S Sarkez' staff described an initiative of the GPC to promote Libyan exports other than oil and gas, such as agricultural and fisheries products, via the newly-created Libyan Export Promotion Center. 8. (SBU) Comment: A/S Hernandez' trip to Libya is the first high-level delegation here since Secretary Rice visited Libya just a month ago. He was enthusiastically welcomed by Libyan government representatives, the small but growing Libyan private sector, and representatives of U.S. firms. The main messages to him were that Libya is open to American companies and future educational/technological exchanges but that challenges still remain in forging the new relationship in terms of visas, legal and bureaucratic obstacles and re-establishing new ties with Libyans after a 25-year absence from the market. End comment. STEVENS 2008-10-08 2011-02-01 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI827 2008-10-17 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI896 AL-QADHAFI AND THE REFORM "VISION THING" REF: A) TRIPOLI 227, B) TRIPOLI 842, C) TRIPOLI 699 TRIPOLI 00000896 001.2 OF 003 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: In a meeting broadcast on state-owned television, senior Government of Libya (GOL) officials disagreed with Muammar al-Qadhafi about plans to implement dramatic government restructuring and privatization he proposed last March. Al-Qadhafi blasted the officials, accusing them of wanting to maintain the status quo to continue profiting from corruption, and insisted that plans to restructure the government and directly distribute shares of oil revenues to the Libyan people be implemented. International media have touted the show as a rare glimpse into the opaque Jamahiriya system; however, local observers believe the meeting was a staged piece of political theater designed to give public cover to an expected scaling back of the proposed reforms. Senior GOL officials have told us privately that serious risks (inflation, currency devaluation, etc.) posed by Leader's vision, together with a lack of consensus about how to implement it, mean the project will be delayed until at least the second quarter of 2009. The personal, albeit unpublicized, involvement of Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, in implementing the initiative has thrown into stark relief disagreements between the regime's old guard and would-be reformers. More cynical contacts have speculated that al-Qadhafi's intent all along was to raise the specter of privatization and government restructuring to make the increasingly creaky Jamahiriya system seem favorable by comparison and temper calls for more sweeping change. End summary. GOL LEADERS DISPUTE REFORM PLAN 2. (SBU) In a development picked up by Reuters, AFP and the Financial Times, Libya's state-owned Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA) televised a meeting between Muammar al-Qadhafi and senior government officials on November 11 in which several GPC secretaries (minister-equivalents) openly disagreed with the Leader about plans to implement dramatic government restructuring and privatization he first proposed in an address to the General People's Congress in March (ref A). In the meeting, Central Bank Governor Farhat Bengadara warned that implementing plans to directly disburse monthly shares of Libya's oil revenues to the Libyan people would fuel undisciplined consumption (an idea al-Qadhafi specifically refuted in March), spark inflation, precipitate devaluation of the dinar, create a balance of payments deficit and cause a decline in real incomes. Minister of Economy and Trade Ali Essawi cautioned that the combination of direct cash payments and dismantling much of the government structure would not prompt greater production or investment, and would adversely impact long-term economic growth and social development. Instead of direct cash payments, Secretary of the General People's Committee (Prime Minister-equivalent) al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi advocated an ill-defined scheme to give Libyans shares in banks and companies through portfolios that would be managed by financial institutions. Pointing to the recent decline in oil prices, several senior GOL officials noted that plan would be more tenable with higher oil prices, but was too risky given the dramatic fluctuations recently seen. AL-QADHAFI (PUBLICLY) INSISTS ON GOING FORWARD 3. (SBU) Striking a populist note, al-Qadhafi blasted the officials, insisting that they wanted to maintain the status quo to keep their positions and continue profiting from corruption. (Note: Al-Qadhafi criticized PM al-Mahmoudi by name in his Revolution Day speech and accused him of being corrupt; his exchange with him in the televised meeting has reinforced widespread expectation that al-Mahmoudi will be sacked in connection with an expected Cabinet shuffle during the March 2009 General People's Congress. End note.) Reprising themes he touched on in March, he said that since multiple efforts to address corruption and mismanagement in the popular committees (ministry-equivalents) had failed, Libyans should instead receive a direct share of oil revenues from which to underwrite health care, education, utilities and investments. Responding to concerns about implementation of the reforms, he stressed that " ... the decision to distribute oil revenues, their sole source of wealth, directly to the people is not negotiable". He conceded that it was "bad luck" that the wealth distribution proposal coincided with declining oil prices, but stressed that the result of the regime's 40-year effort to manage Libya's resources on behalf of its people had been "very bad". He reiterated the argument made in March that once oil revenues were directly distributed, it would no longer be necessary to maintain subsidies or government services (to include health care and education), since people could afford to buy whatever TRIPOLI 00000896 002.2 OF 003 they needed directly. MEDIA BREATHLESS ABOUT OSTENSIBLE VIEW INTO JAMAHIRIYA POLICY DEBATE ... 4. (SBU) International media reaction - JANA broadcast the show, but state-owned media has otherwise not dwelled on it - has largely focused on the unusual spectacle of the ostensible policy debate that took place. Libya watcher and Dartmouth University professor Dirk Vandewalle opined that the meeting reflected the fact that top-down decision-making in Libya was being increasingly questioned and that the power of technocrats had increased. Reuters characterized it as "a rare glimpse into decision-making in the North African country". ... BUT LOCAL OBSERVERS REMAIN UNCONVINCED 5. (C) Observers closer to the scene have been less sanguine, and several senior GOL officials - including those involved in the meeting - had previewed for us in earlier meeetings that lack of agreement about how to implement government restructuring and privatization meant that implementation would be delayed and the scope likely reduced. As reported ref B, CB Governor Bengadara told a visiting U.S. trade specialist in October that while he favored a more aggressive "shock therapy" approach to economic reform than many other senior GOL leaders, he expected the wealth distribution program to take several years to implement and was frankly skeptical about the extent of government restructuring. Dr. Mahmoud Jibril, who heads the Economic Development Board (EDB) and National Planning Council and also leads the five committees tasked with implementing al-Qadhafi's vision, told visiting NEA/MAG Director Stephanie Williams on November 5 that nothing had been firmly decided with respect to government restructuring or privatization of education and healthcare (further details on the Williams-Jibril meeting septel). Conceding that the implementing committees had made little progress in agreeing on a plan, he suggested that change would be unlikely until after the first quarter of 2009. (Note: The General People's Congress typically meets in March; we've been told that they would have to formally bless any restructuring or privatization plans before they could be implemented. End note.) Similarly, Secretary of the General People's Committee for Manpower, Employment and Training (minister-equivalent) Matuq Matuq told us on November 13 that GOL leaders had encountered difficulty in trying to develop plans to implement al-Qadhafi's vision, and flatly told us that privatization and government restructuring would be delayed considerably. SAIF AL-ISLAM'S BEHIND-THE-SCENES ROLE A MIXED BLESSING 6. (C) Part of the issue appears to be that the restructuring and privatization initiatives have become lightning rods for the struggle between the old guard and would-be reformers. Over the summer, contacts told us the five implementing committees had been unable to achieve consensus on whether and how to implement the reforms. A supra-committee under Dr. Jibril was formed to coordinate the implementing committees' work; however, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi - who had formed shadow committees composed of staff from his Qadhafi Development Foundation - has played a powerful and at times leading role in shaping implementation plans. A contact at the EDB told us that Saif al-Islam's involvement was a blessing and a curse. His personal status allowed him to advocate more forcefully than most GOL officials; however, the fact that he is at odds with influential members of the regime's old guard raised the stakes in the debate about restructuring and privatization. 7. (SBU) Implementation of the Leader's vision has already been delayed. When he outlined his vision in March, al-Qadhafi called for the five committees to submit plans for implementing the project by September 1, with the idea that he would detail the plan in his annual Revolution Day speech on/about September 1 and that the changes would be initiated before year's end. He disappointed those hopes, instead shifting the goalposts in his Revolution Day speech by saying the committees would submit implementation plans by year's end, and that changes would begin early in the new year (ref C). 8. (C) Comment: While the televised meeting was noteworthy for the fact that it offered the unusual spectacle of ostensible dissent in the sterile Libyan political environment, the fact that a number of the participants raised their hands to publicly dispute the reforms, together with al-Qadhafi's strident insistence on implementing the original plan, smacks of staged TRIPOLI 00000896 003.2 OF 003 political theater. Local observers have expected for some time that al-Qadhafi would in the end - as he's done before - significantly scale back the scope of the reform agenda he announced in March. By explicitly linking the reforms to the populist issue of anti-corruption, al-Qadhafi has seized the moral high ground on an issue of genuine public concern, which would allow him to blame venal GOL officials for failing to execute his vision if the original plan is modified. Doing so would allow him to limit real reform, and would mitigate to a certain extent criticism of the Jamahiriya system that is his brainchild. More cynical contacts have speculated that al-Qadhafi's intent all along was to raise the specter of privatization - particularly of education and healthcare - and government restructuring to make the increasingly creaky Jamahiriya system seem favorable by comparison in the eyes of a largely conservative, risk-averse Libyan public. According to that line of thinking, al-Qadhafi - concerned that Libya's economic opening was creating pressure for political reform - floated the privatization and government restructuring policy balloon largely as a means by which to muddy the waters and create an atmosphere of "constructive chaos" in which to effect limited (vice sweeping) change. It's a tactic he has used before: Libyan contacts are fond of telling the fable of a race in which participants have to carry a sack of rats a certain distance before they chew through the bag. Al-Qadhafi wins because he figures out that by constantly shaking the bag, the rats are too disoriented to make their way out. End comment. GODFREY 2008-11-18 2011-02-01 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI901 LIBYA'S MINISTRY OF ECONOMY AND TRADE WELCOMES COOPERATION WITH U.S. 1. (U) Summary: In a meeting with visiting NEA/MAG Director Stephanie Williams, Under Secretary for Economy, Trade and Investment Taher Sarkaz emphasized the importance of U.S.-Libya cooperation and outlined steps his ministry taking to facilitate trade and investment. Libya is keenly interested in technical economic assistance, particularly in the area of small- and medium-sized business development, which the GOL views as a key potential area for future growth. Sarkaz commented favorably on the U.S.-Libya Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) currently being negotiated, and expected it to be finalized soon. Williams highlighted the importance of capitalizing on the new period of bilateral cooperation ushered in by implementation of the U.S.-Libya claims agreement and underscored U.S. interest in pursuing further cooperation on economic and trade issues. End summary. 2. (U) Visiting NEA/MAG Director Stephanie Williams, accompanied by A/DCM and Econoff, met with Under Secretary for Economy, Trade and Investment Taher Sarkaz on November 6. Sarkaz stressed the importance to the GOL of U.S.-Libya cooperation in the areas of economy and trade. Citing various studies the General People's Committee (ministry-equivalent) for Economy and Trade had undertaken with assistance from the World Bank and private consulting firms, he said the GOL is keenly focused on facilitating greater trade and developing Libya as a more attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). Those efforts were informed by a desire to diversity to the extent possible Libya's economy, which was largely dependent on oil and gas. 3. (SBU) Sarkaz said the ministry had focused in the last several years on easing rules governing the establishment of new companies, a subject in which he was personally interested. Of particular concern were efforts to expedite the entry of new foreign investors into the market, including introduction of new laws that would allow foreigners to own 100 per cent of their investment projects in Libya. (Note: Investors are currently required by law to have a Libyan partner; the percentage of the joint venture that must be Libyan-owned varies by sector. End note.). He noted that the minsitry had facilitated the issuance of a law that allows Libyan nationals to invest their own capital in Libya and offers them incentives on par with those offered to foreign investors. (Note: In a hangover from Libya's more revolutionary period, there were until recently tight strictures on the types of economic activities, particularly those related to investment, that Libyan citizens could undertake. End note.) Noting that the ministry was heavily involved in privatization efforts, Sarkaz said the General People's Committees were under instructions to help shift the focus in Libya's economy from the public to the private sector. (Note: In a separate meeting, the Secretary of the GPC for Manpower, Employment and Training recently told us that the GOL was working to reduce the number of public sector employees from one million to 130,000 in the net 3-5 years. End note.) 4. (U) Pointing to the Misurata Free Trade Zone (located east of Tripoli), Sarkaz also discussed efforts to create a law governing free trade zones to help promote Libya as a transit hub between Europe and Africa. Efforts are underway to establish a parallel free trade zone west of Tripoli in the Zwara-Abu-Kammash area, a project headed by Saadi al-Qadhafi, a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi. That project is particularly important since a large percentage of Libya's trade flows across its western border with Tunisia. In addition, Libya was working to develop its port and transport infrastructure to enable it to better capitalize on its long coastline and proximity to south-central Europe. 5. (SBU) Addressing Libya's needs for technical assistance, Sarkaz said there is a great need for Libyan economic experts to visit the U.S. and learn from their American counterparts, particularly with respect to helping grow the small and medium-enterprise sector. Sarkaz also expressed interest in any help the U.S. could provide in helping make the GOL more efficient and eliminate the waste of public funds. He acknowledged that Libya needed to modernize its customs authority, ports authority, tax system and banking system to underpin other reforms the GOL is pursuing. He asked for U.S. assistance in introducing a computerized database to collect and analyze economic data, with the goal of providing up-to-date TRIPOLI 00000901 002 OF 002 statistics to decision-makers and planning advisors. 6. (SBU) Sarkaz noted that negotiations for a U.S.-Libya Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) were underway, and that it was expected to be finalized soon. Williams welcomed the news and underscored U.S. interest in further economic cooperation. STEVENS 2008-11-20 2011-02-01 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tripoli
08TRIPOLI912 LIBYA COMMERCIAL ROUND-UP FOR OCTOBER 2008 OIL AND GAS 1. (U) A New Oil Discovery by Sirte Oil Company: On October 7, Sirte Oil, a state-owned company, announced a new oil discovery in the well A1-NC216A in the Ghadames Basin. The well is located approximately 310 km southwest of Tripoli. The initial production testing established an oil rate of 1,725 barrels per day, and a gas rate of 0.25 million standard cubic feet per day. This well represents the company's first discovery in the block. [, 10/7/2008] 2. (U) Russian-British Firm TNK-BP Seeks to Develop Major Libyan Oil Field: After a conflict between the oil company's Russian and British shareholders was settled, TNK-BP received the right to compete with BP in international projects. TNK-BP is negotiating to develop Libya's Sarir field, one of the largest oilfields in Libya located about 500 kilometers east of Tripoli in the Sirte Basin. TNK-BP is ready to sell $1bn-$2bn to obtain the status of operator of Libya's Sarir project. The Russian-British oil producer is now in talks with Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) regarding the development of the Sarir field. In September, a delegation of TNK-BP top executives visited the country to hold cooperation talks. However, investment in the Libyan oil project, which may total between $1bn and $7bn, has yet to be approved by TNK-BP's new CEO. [, 10/21/2008] 3. (U) WesternGeco Wins Libyan Seismic Deal: WesternGeco, part of oil field services giant Schlumberger, has won a contract from Russia's Gazprom to gather 3D seismic data on its Ghadames Basin acreage in Libya. WesternGeco says the survey will start in November, with data to be processed in its new processing center in Tripoli. Gazprom was awarded offshore Area 19 in the Libyan third oil and gas exploration licensing round last year. [MEED, 10/22/2008] 4. (U) Fourth Forum and Exhibition of Oil and Gas Technologies: The forum and exhibition took place in Tripoli from October 20 to 23. The event was sponsored by the NOC and organized by the Libyan Oil Institute. 120 international companies operating in the oil and gas industry from 20 countries as well as Libyan oil companies participated in the event. The exhibition aims to contribute to the communication between the parties of the oil and gas industry, and their counterparts in the international oil and gas industry, and to get an access to the latest techniques and methods in exploration, production, maintenance, marketing, and consuming. [, 10/22/2008] 5. (U) Foster Wheeler confirms Libyan Refinery Deal: The U.S. company Foster Wheeler has been awarded a project management and consultancy contract for the development of a $4 billion, 200,000 barrel a day refinery in Zwara, western Libya. Foster Wheeler says the Zwara refinery is expected to be completed by 2014; producing gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. The client is Zwara Oil Refining Company (Zorco), a project company in which Libya's state-run Tamoil Africa Holdings has the equity. Foster Wheeler says its contract includes the refinery configuration, the selection of the licensors and the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase, including preparation of a cost estimate. The firm will also prepare the tender documents for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) phase, assist Zorco in selecting the EPC contractor and act as project management consultant during construction. The refinery, located near the Tunisian border, will boost the country's refinery capacity to nearly 600,000 barrels a day. [MEED, 10/30/2008] CONSTRUCTION 6. (U) Al Maabar Plans $11.5 billion Investments: Abu Dhabi-based Al Maabar International Investments has lined up overseas investments worth $11.5 billion over 10 years. The investments will be in real estate projects in Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Qatar, Belarus and Jordan. The projects in Libya and Morocco are to be immediately funded. The rest of the projects are long-term; they are now either under initial master plan or are going into detail design. [, 10/5/2008] 7. (U) Hill Signs $42 million Libya University Project: U.S. company Hill International has signed a $42 million contract to provide construction supervision services at a university expansion project in Tripoli. The 21-month contract from the Libyan Organization for the Development of Administrative Centers is part of a $2 billion expansion of Al Fateh University, Libya's largest institute of higher education. Under a 2007 agreement, Hill already provides project management services for the expansion, which will add 17.9 million square feet of space to 39 buildings. [, 10/12/2008] 8. (U) Libyan Iron Steel Company Signed a Contract to Establish a New Factory for Iron Bars Industry: Libyan Iron Steel Company (LISCO) signed a contract to establish a new factory for iron bars with a production capacity of 800,000 tons a year and at a cost of $240 million. After completion of the project, the total production will reach 1.8 million tons against 500 tons a year in 2007. LISCO has signed contracts with specialized Italian companies to get this project executed. The project is expected to be finished in about 30 months. [, 10/19/2008] 9. (U) ESDF, Asamer Launch First Concrete Plant: Libyan Cement Manufacturing Joint Venture Company (JLCC), a joint venture between the Economic Social Development Fund (ESDF) and the Austrian Asamer Group Company, launched the first concrete plant in Tajura. The Tajura concrete plant is the company's second big project launched in Libya. The first one was the cement plant in Benghazi with a minimal capacity of three million tones of cement. [Tripoli Post, 10/19/2008] 10. (U) Turkey's Floating Fair Carries Machinery and Construction Industry to North Africa: Floating Fair Bluexpo's journey included four important trade centers of North Africa; Alexandria in Egypt, Tripoli in Libya, Tunis in Tunisia, and Algiers in Algeria. About 3,500 sector professionals visited the fair located in two ferries; the exhibition involved 150 businesspeople from Turkey who came to Libya under the umbrella of the Turkish Contractors Association. Bluexpo North Africa Construction project aims to provide business opportunities to Turkish companies supplying service and materials in infrastructure and building industries, which have an investment priority in the North African countries. [, 10/20/2008] REGIONAL ISSUES 11. (U) More Cooperation in Electricity: Egypt and Libya agreed on boosting joint cooperation in electricity production. The agreement was reached at a meeting between Egypt's Holding Company for Electrifying Egypt and a visiting delegation of the Libyan electricity authority. The two sides reached an agreement on Libya's contribution in implementing a power generation plant in southern Giza area at a total capacity expected to reach 1,300 megawatts. The plant will start operation in 2012. It was also agreed that Libya will contribute to other electricity projects in Egypt. [ANSAmed, 10/1/2008] 12. (U) U.S. Opens Trade Office in Libya: on October 5, the American Commercial Service Office was opened in Tripoli to take part in promotion of the economic cooperation among the different Libyan and American institutions. Libyan officials and businessmen from both countries attended the office's opening. The American Assistant Secretary of Commerce underlined the importance of this office to strengthen economic and commercial ties between both countries, clarifying that the office is a good move to boost cooperation and bilateral commercial exchange. The Under Secretary of the General People's Committee for Economy, Trade and Investment said that this office will be a means to provide the institutions and companies with sufficient information about commercial and economic laws and legislations applied in both countries; provide the commercial information required by the American companies that have the desire to execute projects in Great Jamahiriya; and to provide the American investors with information about the Libyan markets and their needs. [, 10/7/2008] 13. (U) Libya Maritime Exhibition and Conference: The Libya Maritime Exhibition and Conference (LIMEX 2008) was held at the naval base in Tripoli from October 13 to 15. It showcased the latest maritime technology by bringing together key industry, government and defense personnel from Libya and Overseas. [ljbc, 10/16/2008] 14. (U) Finance Ministers and Central Banks Governors to Discuss Global Financial Crisis on African Economy: The African Development Bank called on African Union finance ministers and governors of Central Banks to meet November 12, to discuss repercussions of the global financial crisis on African economy. The conference aims at taking a unified stance amongst African Union member states in confronting the global financial crisis, the bank said in a statement issued in Tunis. The statement also said the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission affirm that Africa's voice would be heard during discussions on the reform of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund following the financial collapse of the capitalist system. [ljbc, 10/26/2008] IT 15. (U) Libyans Take to the Mobile Web: BuzzCity, which provides global wireless communities and consumer services, has published the Global Mobile Advertising Index, which shows the growing use of the mobile Internet and the ensuing advertiser interest. BuzzCity reports continued growth in Indonesia, which remains in top position despite network irregularities, as well as significant growth in Kenya, USA and Bangladesh. BuzzCity also reports record growth for demand of its service in Libya, which it says will surprise both the global mobile community and digital advertising industries. Only six months ago Libya was in 93rd position. BuzzCity says the growth is likely to be directly linked with changes in mobile operator business models, offering affordable and understandable mobile data packages. [, 10/14/2008] INVESTMENT 16. (U) Libyan Investment Projects Increase: Resources in the Board of Encouraging Investment mentioned that the size of investment increased from $200 million in 2003 to $2.157 billion in the first half of year 2008. The increase is varied in the size of investment from one year to another and the year 2007 recorded the highest development average. It created ten thousand opportunities of jobs to the national elements. The projects were increased by a value of $1.5 billion in comparison to $720 million in 2007. The number of investment projects that entered the operations in the first half of this year provided 2,267 opportunities of employment for Libyans. [, 10/22/2008] 17. (U) Libya Eyes European, U.S. Equities: The Libyan Investment Authority is looking to invest $65 billion in European and U.S. equities to diversify its portfolio after recent market declines. "We want to diversify, number one in Europe, number two in the United States, and then in emerging market economies," said Farhat Bin Guidara, Governor of the Central Bank of Libya and a member of the board of the state's investment authority. "We are going more towards pharmaceuticals, telecoms, utilities and food manufacturing," he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Cairo. [Reuters, 10/24/2008] BANKING 18. (U) Libya Buys 4.23% Stake in UniCredit: The Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Foreign Bank acquired a combined 4.23% stake in Italian bank UniCredit SpA (UCG.MI). According to UniCredit's spokesman, the acquisition by Libyan interests is "friendly." The stake initially held by Libyan interests in the Italian bank was 0.87%, the UniCredit spokesman said, with the rest being purchased over the last few days. UniCredit shares have had hardly any relief from selling and have lost 30% since the bank announced its funding plans on October 5. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said he is concerned sovereign wealth funds from oil-producing countries could launch a hostile takeover for Italian companies, given their low valuations after the recent sharp fall in the stock markets. [, 10/19/2008] 19. (U) Egypt's Naeem Wins Approval to Open in Libya: Naeem Holding, Egypt's second-largest publicly traded investment bank, said on Sunday it had won approval to open a representative office in Libya. The bank did not say when it would open the office in a statement on the stock exchange website. A company spokesman said he could not immediately give further details. Naeem, which operates in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, said in May it planned to reduce the proportion of its revenue from Egypt to between 35 percent and 40 percent from 70 percent within two years. [Reuters, 10/27/2008] AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY 20. (U) Zhongxing Auto to Export 5,000 Pick-ups to Libya: Hebei Zhongxing Automobile Co., Ltd., an expert of pick-up trucks and SUVs in North China, clinched an agreement with Libya on October 20, 2008 on exporting 5,000 pick-ups. The Hebei-based carmaker exported 4,000 cars to the North African country in 2003 and those products used by government organs and social organizations won excellent public praise in the country for the company, laying a strong foundation for the big order this time. The order of 5,000 pick-ups accounts for 40%-50% of the market demand for 10,000-12,000 such cars in Libya this year. The company expects to sell 35,000 to 40,000 cars this year, with a yearly increase of 15% to 20%. [, 10/23/2008] LABOR 21. (U) Libya to Recruit Large Number of Bangladeshi Laborers: Libya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh to recruit a large number of workers as Tripoli launched a $130 billion infrastructure development program that will require over one million foreign workers. The MoU was signed by the Bangladesh Foreign Adviser, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury and the Libyan Labor Minister Maa'touq Mohammed Maa'touq. Under the five-year development program, Libya will construct 300,000 housing units, 27 university complexes, over 10,000 kilometer roads and maintain 24,000 kilometer roads. Presently, some 25,000 Bangladeshi are employed in Libya. The Libyan minister did not give the exact number of Bangladeshi workers they will recruit but said they issued 6,000 visas for Bangladeshi workers last month. [, 10/31/2008] STEVENS 2008-11-25 2011-02-01 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tripoli
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