SEC Chides Conoco, Occidental Over Libya Ties

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delivered inquiries to U.S. oil giants ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroluem regarding the companies' operations in Libya. The companies are the third- and fourth-largest U.S. oil companies, respectively. News of the inquiries was originally reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier this evening.

Houston-based ConocoPhillips (COP) confirmed that it received the SEC inquiry and said that it is fully cooperating with the agency's investigation. Occidental spokesman Richard Kline said in an email the company was ''among the companies which received an information request regarding Libya from the SEC,'' the Journal reported.

California-based Occidental (XOM) was working on a project in Libya's Sirte Basin prior to the onset of political violence in Libya that started in February and has yet to result in a regime change. Political tensions in Africa's third-largest oil producer have led many analysts to conclude Libyan oil production is all but lost for the remainder of 2011.

Exxon Mobil (XOM), the largest U.S. oil company, also said it received a request for information from the SEC. Exxon was conducting offshore exploratory drilling activity before the U.S. government slapped sanctions on the Gadhafi regime in February, the Journal reported. Libya, an OPEC member, is home to Africa's largest oil reserves.