The deal BP made with Libya this week for rights to huge gas fields demonstrates the new attraction North Africa has for investors. Once controlled by what Business Week calls "pariahs and basket cases," the area now looks stable (compared to the Middle East, that is) and is a good deal closer to Western Europe than the Persian Gulf.
The deal, made during Tony Blair's good-bye visit to Muammar Qaddafi, may have been partially a reward to Britain for helping Libya to shake off its pariah status; BP hopes to find 20- to 30-trillion cubic feet of gas in the newly purchased land. The British giant joins Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, which have already wrapped up major deals.
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