Libya will allow BP to begin drilling in its offshore deepwater region next month, despite the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the head of Libya’s National Oil Co. said Sunday. Shokri Ghanem, who serves as Libya’s de facto oil minister, said the April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, and the subsequent spill, were ‘tragic,’ but the oil industry is also moving into ‘new frontiers.’

Ghanem’s comments are the latest confirmation by the OPEC nation that it was planning to honor the contract it signed with BP in 2007 to drill in the Libyan deepwater region of the Mediterranean Sea.

Libya’s proven oil reserves are the ninth-largest in the world, but vast areas remain unexplored. The country has been working to bring in foreign oil companies and investors after U.S. and U.N. sanctions were lifted several years ago.

Ghanem said he met recently with Tony Hayward, BP’s former chief executive officer who was replaced earlier this week because of the spill, and was assured that the company was doing its best. ‘I think that BP is a great company, with good experience,’ Ghanem said. ‘I told him we are honoring our commitment and we can start drilling next month.’

Source: Newswires