BP said in a statement that it was withdrawing non-essential overseas staff out of Libya “as a precautionary measure” following advice given to it by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. However, BP said that its Libyan staff remain in its office in the country.
Last week, the Foreign Office noted that armed groups were disrupting access to a number of government ministries in Tripoli, Libya’s capital city, and that there was potential for violence and clashes between rival armed groups.
The FCO advised Friday UK citizens against all but essential travel to Tripoli and against all travel to the rest of the country. It has also withdrawn a small number of its own staff who work at the British Embassy.
Also last week, Italy’s ENI – the international oil major with the biggest operations in Libya – said it expects unrest to continue in the country.
On Friday, ENI Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni was quoted as saying that he is optimistic that the situation in Libya will eventually improve as the country embraces democracy.
The latest violence is likely to delay further BP restarting its operations in the country. The company indicated several times in 2012 that it was looking to restart its operations after it suspended them during Libya’s civil war in 2011.
But, even before the recent violence differences between the Libyan government and foreign firms over the use of foreign security forces in oil zones within the country are already thought to have been an obstacle to BP resuming operations.