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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 06:31 GMT
Oil giant Exxon returns to Libya
Exxon oil refinery
ExxonMobil is the world's largest energy company
ExxonMobil, the world's largest energy producer, is returning to Libya after an absence of almost 25 years.

It has signed a deal with Libya's state oil company to explore offshore energy deposits.

Both Exxon and Mobil once had significant business interests in Libya, producing the country's first oil field and shipping oil to market.

However, the companies pulled out of Libya in the early 1980s after US-Libyan relations deteriorated.

Sanctions lifted

All Western companies exited Libya in the late 1980s after the US and EU imposed trade sanctions on Colonel Gaddafi's regime, which they said sponsored terrorism.

We are pleased to be back in business in Libya
Phil Goss, ExxonMobil

The embargo was lifted last year.

Since then, Libya has offered exploration licences to a number of mainly European and Asian companies.

The agreement with ExxonMobil covers the exploration of an area covering 2.5 million acres in the Cyrenaica Basin, one of the country's largest energy fields.

Although Libya is estimated to have proven oil reserves of 36 billion barrels, only a quarter of its territory has existing exploration contracts.

"We are pleased to be back in business in Libya," said Phil Goss, president of ExxonMobil Libya.

"We look forward to working with the Libya National Oil Corporation and Libyan government to achieve great successes in Libya once again."

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