Oil companies line up to schmooze with Libyan representatives


US - Libya side bar

The end of Moammar Gaddafi's regime has opened new opportunities for powerful oil companies behind the US Libya Business Council. Today the US-Libya Business Association (USLBA) is holding a meeting with State Department officials and Mustafa Abushagur, who served briefly this year as prime minister before his country's general assembly ousted him in a dust-up over his Cabinet choices.

Libya is rich in hydrocarbon resources, but western companies have had only limited opportunities to do business there because of sanctions levied on Gaddafi. Though those had begun to ease towards the end of his regime, the chaos that followed his bloody ouster during the Arab Spring threw in another degree of difficulty for westerners. As the CIA World Fact Book puts it:  "New rounds [of oil and gas leases] are unlikely until Libya establishes a more permanent government." Today's meeting gives corporate players a chance to meet some potential members of that government. Libya is actively seeking foreign investors in its energy industry.

The USLBA describes itself as a non-profit trade association and has engaged in such activities as business promotion and helped secure spare parts for Libyan hospitals in 2011. To the right is the banner of members listed on the USLBA website.

Here are lobbying figures for the current session of Congress through the second quarter of this year for members of the USLBA those that have mentioned Libya in their lobbying records. Note: These numbers represent total lobbying by the named groups, all of whom work to influence on a host of issues, including Libya.

Other groups that have listed Libya on their lobbying agenda include the National Foreign Trade Council, which broke off from USLBA in 2009 but still lobbies on Libya-related issues according to Senate records. Influence Explorer shows that National Foreign Trade Council totaled $616,000 in lobbyingduring this session of Congress.

Several of the big players of the USLBA trade association are also members of the Libyan British Business Council  also listed on the invitation. For example, BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Ernst & Young LLP. and Hill International, are all listed on the rosters of both organizations.

Non-business groups also recorded lobbying on Libya: Amnesty International of the USA spent $779,331 according to Influence Explorer. In Senate lobbying records it listed Libya as one of the countries that it was advocating for human rights. 

American Israel Public Affairs Committee totaled $4 million in lobbying, according to Influence Explorer. Among their lobbying issues, AIPAC mentioned a bill to cut aid to Libya as well as Pakistan and Egypt.