Libya held a rare oil conference in the eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday as its state oil firm NOC reached out to a region home to a parallel government backing a rival oil firm.
The “Benghazi Oil and Gas Exhibition and Forum” is the first international business conference in Libya’s second-largest city since 2014 when it turned into a battlefield.
Forces of Khalifa Haftar declared victory in July 2017 over Islamists, ending four years of fighting that destroyed parts of the port city.
Hotels and Benghazi airport have reopened but several bombings killed dozens of people this year, forcing organizers to postpone the conference until security had improved.
“Benghazi city will play a prominent and important role for the oil and gas sector in the region and probably the world,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in his opening comments, marking a rare public speech in Benghazi.
An executive of U.S. oil services firm Schlumberger (SLB.N), a partner of NOC, said “the event will be very important to us and we are looking forward to interesting discussions.
No deals are expected at the two-day forum in the Tibesti hotel, which aims to promote an industry exchange and, more importantly, to appease complaints in the east about few government activities there, industry sources said.
“It’s a political message to appease the east,” said the CEO of a Libyan oil service firm.
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