Canadian companies in Libya

A handful of Canadian companies maintain a presence - including Canadian workers - in Libya. All say they have moved their Canadian workforce out of the country until the situation stabilizes.
Labourers work at the site of the new Tripoli International Airport last year. Foreign firms have been pulling their workers out of the volatile country. ((Ismail Zitouny/Reuters))

On Jan. 29, 2009, Canada extended Most-Favoured Nation tariff status to Libya. The status is supposed to reduce trade barriers between countries and make it easier for the countries to conduct business with each other.

Despite that, Libya isn't exactly one of Canada's major trading partners. In 2010, Canada imported $24,613,563 worth of goods from Libya. Libya bought almost 10 times that amount — $246,118,859 — from Canada.

Several major Canadian companies have major economic interests in Libya. Here's a list of some of them, along with the projects in which they have interests.

SNC Lavalin

SNC Lavalin is involved in three major projects in Libya. ((CBC))

Benina International Airport in Benghazi

  • $500-million contract won in September 2008. 
  • Slated to be finished within two years.
  • Construction includes: new international terminal, runway and apron.

Great Man-Made River Project

  • $450-million contract won in October 2010.
  • Scheduled to be finished by 2015.
  • Project details: Installation of pumps and pipelines in the Al Kufra Wellfield, a water transport pipeline that will move water from southern areas of the country to the north. It will supply most of the drinking water to the country's major cities and provide irrigation water to large tracts of agricultural land in the country.

Guryan prison, Tripoli

  • $275-million contract to build a detention centre. 
  • Scheduled to be finished by 2012.

On Feb. 21, the Montreal-based engineering firm suspended work on its three major projects because of the political unrest in Libya. The company later moved about 1,700 employees from Benghazi to Cairo. As of Feb. 28, the company reports that it is continuing to move employees out of the country. It won't release details to protect the safety of its workers as well as those who work for other companies


Calgary-based oil and gas company Suncor draws about 50,000 barrels of oil daily in Libya, representing about nine per cent of the company's annual production. It inherited oil assets in Libya when it merged with Petro Canada in 2009.

Suncor moved its staff from Libya to Malta between Feb. 21 and Feb. 25. It, too, is refusing to provide details of the evacuation. Suncor says its response team is continuing to support the evacuation of workers from non-Suncor oilfields.  

Pure Technologies

Pure Technologies has left a manager in Benghazi to handle the company's affairs until the situation returns to normal. ((CBC))

Pure Technologies, based in Calgary, had 14 employees in eastern Libya working on the Great Man-Made River Projects.

The company's role is to provide inspection and monitoring technologies and services to assess the extent and rate of deterioration of concrete pipes. The company was hired after a series of failures on the four-metre pipes in 1999 and 2000.

The company  has moved all its employees out of the country except for a manager who will remain in Benghazi to handle the company's affairs until the situation returns to normal.

Sonde Resources

Sonde Resources has partnered with a Libyan-Tunisian company to develop an oilfield off the coast of North Africa. ((CBC))

This Calgary-based oil company is working with Joint Oil, a company owned by Libya and Tunisia, to develop 768,000 gross undeveloped acres of potential oilfields off the coast of Tunisia and Libya.

The company has approximately 36 employees in Canada, U.S., Trinidad and Tobago and Tunisia, but no staff in Libya.

Caradan Chemicals

This Nisku, Alberta-based chemicals company provides products that are widely used in the oil and gas industries.

It has pulled its ex-patriate workforce out of Libya and is maintaining an office in Tripoli with local staff.