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Japan's JX Tells Libya Office Head to Return Home

Source: Reuters 2/21/2011, Location: Africa

Japanese oil and gas explorer JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration on Monday said it had ordered the Japanese head of its Tripoli office to return home as soon as possible as tensions in OPEC member Libya grew.

JX's partners in Libyan oil exploration, Mitsubishi Corp and Japan Petroleum Exploration (Japex), said none of their Japanese employees were currently in Libya.

Spokespeople for the three firms said the recent unrest, that led to the deaths of at least 233 people, has had a minimal impact on their exploration businesses as none of the projects run by the companies are currently under production.

A spokesman for JX Nippon Oil & Gas, the wholly owned exploration arm of JX Holdings, said it acquired interests in two exploration blocks 2- and 40- in 2005. He said it has drilled four test wells, but had no plans for commercial production.

A Japex spokeswoman said the male head of its Libya office was currently on a trip to Japan, while a female Japanese worker had recently left Libya.

Japex has stakes in two exploration blocks, 40- and 176-4, but said the company has decided to pull out of the projects because the trial wells did not yield promising results, the spokeswoman said.

Mitsubishi Corp said its Libya office has one employee sent from the Tokyo headquarters but the person was out of the country on a business trip.

A Mitsubishi spokeswoman said it has not issued an order to the employee to stay out of the country. A Mitsubishi spokesman said the firm has interests in four exploration blocks but no projects have been slated for production.

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