Turkey is in talks over oil and gas exploration in Libya, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration seeks business opportunities in the conflict-ridden North African country.
Turkey and Libya’s United Nations-recognized government, which controls the capital Tripoli and other parts of the west, are discussing onshore and offshore energy blocks, according to a Turkish energy official, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
Turkish officials also held talks with Libya’s National Oil Corp. about power generation and pipeline operations, the person said. The official did not specify whether the NOC was included in negotiations about energy exploration.
The NOC, also based in Tripoli, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
An energy deal would strengthen Turkey’s ties with the Government of National Accord, which fended off a campaign by eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar to capture Tripoli and wrest full control of the OPEC member earlier this year. Ankara sent troops and military advisers to Libya in January, which proved crucial in turning the tide against Haftar.
Libya, home to Africa’s largest crude oil reserves, has been wracked by war and lawlessness since a 2011 revolt that toppled former dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. The country is divided between the GNA and Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
The war has devastated Libya’s oil industry. It pumped just 100,000 barrels of crude a day in July, a fraction of the 1.6 million barrels of daily output a decade ago.
Western Libya is home to the country’s biggest oil field, Sharara.
Turkey has deep historical ties to Libya, which the Turks ruled as part of the former Ottoman Empire until 1912.
The GNA said its prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, visited Turkey earlier this month to discuss economic and security cooperation with Erdogan.
The two sides discussed “the return of Turkish companies to complete halted infrastructure projects in Libya and contributing to new projects,” according to a GNA statement on Sept. 6.