BP leads exodus of companies

OIL-GIANTS BP and Shell yesterday evacuated staff from Libya, as pro-democracy riots descended into chaos last night.

The London-based oil majors, as well as several other energy firms operating in the oil-rich north-African nation, are working to remove staff from danger.

Dutch energy giant Shell, German oil provider Kassel and Wintershall ­– the oil unit of chemical group Basf ­– also said they were pulling staff from the country.

BP, which has a $900m (£556m) programme in the region, said it had suspended preparations for drilling in Libya as a result of the violence, but denied reports it would permanently end operations there.

A spokesman for the company said around 40 employees and their families had been flown out of Tripoli. “The remainder of the companies employees in Libya will leave the country in due course and in accordance with enforced curfew,” he said.