Thursday 26 January 2017 3:56 pm

Londoners invited to invest in Libya

Libyan businessmen and governmental officials are in London today seeking investment in the country’s key industries.

The Libya Reconstruction and Investment Forum is being held at Lancaster House, a government-owned mansion in St James’s operated by the Foreign Office.

Oil, healthcare and infrastructure will be among the sectors where Libyans will be looking for foreign investment today at the meeting hosted by Middle East Association and Developing Markets Associates

British Ambassador in Libya, Peter Millett said: “we are very pleased to have helped with organising this forum, which is an important step towards reinvigorating the Libyan economy.

“Investment in electricity, water, and healthcare is critical to alleviating the suffering of the Libyan people. After five years of violence and political divisions, the Libyan people deserve better.”

Mustafa Sanallah, chairman of Libya’s state-run oil firm, told delegates at Chatham House this week that the country would be opening up its oil reserves to foreign investment following a five-year moratorium.

Sanallah is hopeful that agreements with militias to allow oil to leave via the country’s major oil ports will give Libya a chance to boost its output to the global market, roughly 40 per cent of which is currently lost to smuggling.

While the UN-backed Government of National Accord, based in the west of the country has the sole right to export Libya’s oil under international law, major oil ports and number of oil fields in the east of Libya are still controlled by the rival Tobruk-based government.

Libya’s oil output is currently at a 3-year high and is expected to be pumping 1.25m barrels a day by the end of 2017. The country had been producing 1.6m barrels a day prior to the toppling of Moammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Chinese and South Korean firms have already expressed interest in investing billions of dollars into crucial oil infrastructure, according to Sanallah, who will be meeting some of these companies in London today.

Despite having concerns that a "legitimate government with a mandate from the people to come to power", Sanallah is confident that with further investment “we can use oil to unify the country”.

“We cannot stand back and do nothing while the state disintegrates” Sanallah told delegates at Chatham House this week. The engagement of the firms represented at Lancaster House today may prove crucial in achieving his vision.