Rebels: Libya Will Honor Oil Contracts
Intense gun battles as rebel fighters take Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in central Tripoli on Tuesday.
It appears the man who has ruled Libya for four decades has little or no power left.
Foreign oil companies with stakes in Libya are intensely interested in who or what will replace him, and how quickly stability can return.
Libya’s National Transitional Council is the political face of anti-Gaddafi forces.
Ahmed Jehani is its senior representative for reconstruction.
In an interview with Reuters Insider TV, Jehani said foreign oil companies will still be able to do business in Libya under arrangements made before the fall of Gaddafi’s regime.
“All contracts will be honoured. All lawful contracts will be offered, whether they are in the oil and gas complex or in the contracting. At the moment it is not for this government to decide whether they will be revoking any contract.”
It may not be that easy.
Before the civil war ignited six months ago, Libya exported 1.6 million barrels of oil a day.
That output has fallen to almost nothing.
Although oil infrastructure could be quickly repaired, divisions between the rebels and Libya’s numerous tribal, regional and ethnic groups will be more difficult.
Shashank Joshi is an international security expert with Royal United Services in London.
“I think, though, those divisions which are ineradicable in the short term can be contained without resort to violence as long as the new government is really focused on tolerance and inclusiveness. It says it is. I think the test will come when it has to make difficult choices like how to divide Libya’s oil wealth or where, for example, to start disarming militias.”
Jehani says bringing stability is the National Transitional Council’s primary aim.
“Right now we are focused like a laser on stabilisation. How you stabalise security, the services to your people, humanitarian, you get the governance right, you get the economy right, all of these things you need to do and focus on them, then you move into rehabilitation.”
The price of Brent crude oil hovered around $109 a barrel on Wednesday, having dropped to $106 on Monday.
Libya once supplied 2% of the world’s oil.
The country’s former top oil official, who defected to London, says he thinks the country should be able to resume oil output within a few months. But reaching its pre-war levels could take as long as a year and a half.
Bottom line: A Libyan rebel government will honor all the oil contracts granted during the Muammar Gaddafi era, including those of Chinese companies, senior rebel representative, Ahmed Jehani, says.