Statoil said it has no immediate plans to send workers to restart oil production in Libya, defying weekend calls by the Libyan oil head for foreign companies to return staff and resume drilling.

Statoil, Norway’s largest oil producer, closed its office in Libyan capital Tripoli on 21 February as protests escalated against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

A company spokesman said the office is still closed, adding it was too early to speculate on the future of its Libyan operations.

Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), urged foreign oil companies to send back their workers to Libya as soon as possible, saying the government was ready to bus or fly foreign workers to fields around the country.

Ghanem said the country would honour existing drilling agreements, but suggested that if foreign companies didn’t return staff then Libya would be forced to offer new contracts to other companies from China, India and Brazil.

The Statoil spokesman said the company is awaiting guidelines from the Norwegian government before making any decisions on its operations in Libya, according to Dow Jones.

“We will follow relevant sanctions and regulations from Norwegian authorities,” he said.

Analyst Oddvar Bjorgan at SEB Enskilda told Upstreamonline’s sister publication DN that a loss of oil production from Libya would have little effect on Statoil.

”Statoil has very little production and relatively marginal profitability in Libya, so for Statoil this is a storm in a teacup,” he said.

Statoil participates in land-based oil production and exploration activities on the Mabruk field and in the Murzuk basin in partnership with Repsol and Total. According to the spokesman, the company’s production in the country amounted to 4200 barrels per day, compared with a total global production of 1.89 million bpd.

Statoil’s investments in Libya amounted to Nkr77 million ($13.7 million) in 2009, the most recent figure available, compared to total investments of Nkr85 billion in 2009. In 2009 Statoil had 44 employees in Libya, of a global total of 28,707.

(Source: upstreamonline)