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By Steve Peacock

The Obama administration is considering future funding of industry modernization ventures in Libya, and has proposed sending contractors to assess U.S. investment prospects.

Four separate “definitional missions,” or DMs, soon will be carried out by private vendors on behalf of the U.S. Trade & Development Agency, an independent White House entity.

According to planning documents that WND located via routine database research, USTDA has issued Requests for Proposals from contractors capable of identifying and evaluating industry projects that Libya’s National Transitional Council is proposing.

The USTDA-funded missions come at a time when the council is struggling to contain divisive conflicts between tribal and regional militias.

As WND reported last month, the NTC is threatening to use force to keep those opposing forces in check, a move seen by some as necessary to avoid fracturing the nation.

The Libyan sectors targeted for review under the new USTDA initiatives are: (1) Oil and Gas; (2) Power Generation; (3) Transportation, and: (4) Information and Communications Technology.

USTDA’s stated purpose behind the sector evaluations is to increase “strategic opportunities for the utilization of U.S. goods, services, and technologies as the country rebuilds its economy…”

The agency also says the initiatives fall within the purview of its mission to facilitate U.S. involvement in “priority development projects in emerging economies.”

Libya currently relies on oil to generate most of its electricity nationwide, “an inefficient and expensive method of power production,” the Scope of Work governing the Oil and Gas Sector DM points out.

The General Electric Company of Libya, however, recently doubled its natural gas-based power generation capacity – and estimates that the nation’s industrial and civilian gas requirements will nearly quadruple by 2020.

“A significant number of energy-focused U.S. firms have indicated their interest in working in Libya,” the SOW says, “many of whom have provided capability statements to the Commercial Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Libya and are looking for business opportunities to engage in the Libya market.”

A separate document for a Power Generation Sector DM offered a nearly verbatim justification for that mission – it merely replaced the project title “Libya: Oil and Gas Sector [DM]” with “Libya: Power Generation Sector [DM].”

The only difference is a reference to utilizing U.S. companies to rebuild the country’s “traditional power generation infrastructure” and to develop “new renewable power generation capacity.”

Equally critical to Libya’s economic growth will be the “rebuilding of its vital transportation sector,” USTDA says.

The agency therefore will fund a DM to assess that industry segment. Particular emphasis will be placed on the Libyan air transport sector, “as it facilitates both its urban and petroleum industries,” the applicable documentation explains.

Obstacles remain for U.S. industry participation in rebuilding this sector, but those hurdles appear to be diminishing, it said.

USTDA acknowledged in the document that “Due to the history of [U.S. and international] sanctions, the two national airlines have only purchased Airbus aircraft” made in France. Plus, last year’s Libyan conflict “resulted in a drop of more than one million international passengers that same year compared to 2010.”

On a positive note, however, “Since the end of the conflict, all three domestic airlines and 15 international airlines have resumed service” across Libya. Additionally, Libya’s NTC has indicated that a merger and privatization of the two state-owned airlines could take place by 2013, according to USTDA.

The DM for this sector will examine opportunities for U.S. businesses in Libya’s “rapid modernization of its airports and airlines” as well in its commercial seaports, which include “many oil and natural gas terminals.”

NTC has expressed interest in crafting an “e-Libya” program – a national policy to accelerate e-commerce, e-learning, online government services, and the expansion of wireless and Internet connectivity.

USTDA therefore is embarking upon an Information and Communications Technology sector DM to evaluate these and other proposed programs and projects already under way.

“The e-Libya program has wide political support and is seen as a method to combat government corruption,” the SOW says.

Two U.S. companies – left unidentified by USTDA – already have expressed interest in Libyan projects, the document says.

USTDA typically awards contracts for post-DM endeavors – such as the development of feasibility studies – prior to providing or arranging project-specific financing. Depending upon the findings in those reports, the U.S. government directly may offer additional funds or indirectly through organizations such as the World Bank.

The due date for proposals for all four of the USTDA missions is April 20.

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