BP to the rescue: UK expats spirited out of Libya
IOC lends Foreign Office company jet to evacuate Brits from chaos
Britain's stalled attempts to evacuate nationals from what is rapidly turning into a disastrous civil war in Libya finally got off the ground thanks to oil giant BP.
The Foreign Office confirmed last night it had managed to load 300 Britons onto a plane at Tripoli. An initial flight chartered to take them home failed to take off from London's Gatwick airport having developed a technical fault on the ground. The plane did eventually take off, albeit ten hours later than expected.
Having postponed a diplomatic trip to the US earlier in the day, Foreign Secretary William Hague told a press conference that more planes were on the way, including one chartered from Italy .
Portugal, Turkey, France and the EU had already pulled out thousands of citizens, using a variety of air sea and land evacuations as the North African state looks set to be plunged into a bloody civil war following a violent backlash against protesters ordered by dictator Colonel Gaddaffi.
French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has called for “swift and concrete” sanctions, and the White House said it was ready to reimpose penalties only recently lifted.
However, Mr Cameron said the regime could still respond to calls for change. “Sanctions are always an option for the future if what we’re seeing in Libya continues,” he said.
The Royal Navy Frigate HMS Cumberland has also been pressed into evacuation service, and is on its way to theeastern city of Benghazi to rescue UK citizens there.
In May 2007 BP's CEO hailed the successful signing of an upstream deal in Libya, citing it as the company's "single biggest exploration commitment."
BP signed the exploration and production agreement with Libya's National Oil Company (NOC). The initial exploration commitment was set at a minimum of US$900million, with significant additional appraisal and development expenditures upon exploration success.
The agreement was signed today in Sirt, Libya, by BP's then group chief executive Tony Hayward and NOC chairman, Shokri Ghanem. Both have since left their jobs, Hayward in the wake of the American backlash against the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, Ghanem in shame after allegations over his family's involvement in massive corruption relating to energy deals surfaced.
BP and the LIC were set explore around 54,000 km2 of the onshore Ghadames and offshore frontier Sirt basins, equivalent to more than ten of BP's operated deepwater blocks in Angola. Successful exploration could lead to the drilling of around 20 appraisal wells.
During this exploration and appraisal phase, BP will acquire 5,500km of 2D seismic and 30,000km2 of 3D seismic and will drill 17 exploration wells.
The company has made no official statement since the troubles in Libya began, but is widely thought to have evacuated expatriate staff earlier this week.