As rival militias in postwar Libya wage turf wars in Tripoli and the interim government struggles to form a national army, Western mercenaries are moving in to fill the security vacuum in the oil-rich North African state.
Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising that the executive bureau of the National Transitional Council, striving to govern a country wracked by gunfire and political feuding, is giving these companies the time of day.
Western oil companies and other business groups hustling to get a piece of Libya’s oil and natural gas wealth want protection before they start investing large amounts of money in the new Libya following the defeat and ignominious death of leader Moammar Gadhafi in an eight-month civil war.
“Compared to former Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni’s rather hostile attitude, Libya’s new leadership is showing greater openness toward foreign private security companies,” observed the Intelligence Online newsletter, which has headquarters in Paris.
Several weeks ago, London’s HIS security consultancy was reporting that the NTC was unwilling to allow private security firms into the country. This, it said, “is acting as a brake on the country’s resurgent oil production.” That, however, appears to have changed as security slumped.
Leading the pack is Britain’s Blue Mountain Group, which has been operating with Western companies in Libya for several months. It has received a no-objection certificate from the new Libyan authorities, Intelligence Online reports.
Foreign companies cannot work in Libya without a no-objection document, particularly with the state-run National Oil Co. and its joint ventures with Western oil companies.
The oil industry is a key sector for the security contractors. Many oil fields and facilities are in remote desert regions and are still prey to marauding Gadhafi loyalists and freelance gangs.
Blue Mountain took a major step forward in November by joining forces with a local outfit, the Eclipse Group.