Business Around The Uprising In Libya
by: Andrew Schneider, February 22, 2011 12:02:00 am
The uprising in Libya is sending fresh shockwaves through the oil industry. Andrew Schneider looks at how the violence is affecting one local company.
Houston-based CECA Supply & Services exports U.S.-made oilfield goods to North Africa. Libya represents one of its most important markets.
Company vice president Rami Touma says that the violence in Libya is forcing CECA to halt its business there indefinitely. He cites one deal now up in the air.
“We are the distributors for a Buffalo-based company that actually has a big warehouse here in Houston called Derrick Equipment. We were going to send over a large supply of inventory — about half a million dollars worth of equipment — to Tripoli, and our partner there on the ground has told us to basically hold off on shipment.”
Ordinarily, CECA’s diversity lets it ride out trouble in any one country. But with most of North Africa in turmoil, Touma says, the company has few options.
“So right now, we’re just not making big decisions until we know how this is going to shake out.”
Houston companies with people on the ground in Libya are going into crisis mode, as violence in that country escalates. Andrew Schneider reports.
The Bilateral U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, a Houston-based trade group, says the majority of its member companies are scrambling to get their personnel out of Libya. Chamber president Aida Araissi.
“At first, it was non-essential employees, and now I think the word is that everyone is evacuating. Airspace in Benghazi is completely shut down. I do think that there are a few charter flights that are getting people out as much as they can, or driving into Tunisia and getting them out through the border. It’s devastating.”
Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, Libya is a major producer of oil. The uprising there caused oil prices to spike by $5 yesterday, their biggest one-day jump in almost three years.