x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Qaddafi offers Russia, China and India a stake in Libyan oil industry

Tripoli asks foreign firms to resume oil exports while the Libyan rebel leader warns of future consequences.

Libya's National Oil Corporation appealed yesterday to foreign companies to resume oil exports from the country and for industry employees to return to work.
Libya's National Oil Corporation appealed yesterday to foreign companies to resume oil exports from the country and for industry employees to return to work.
Muammar Qaddafi, the embattled Libyan president, has urged Russia, China and India to invest in his country's oil industry as world powers edge closer to imposing a no-fly zone.
Libyan state television said Col Qaddafi made the appeal during talks on Sunday with ambassadors of the three countries while urging their leaders to visit Libya.
"In the discussions with the ambassadors . a call was made for the companies of those countries to invest in the Libyan oil sector," it said.
Russia and China, which hold veto power in the UN Security Council, have opposed calls from fellow council members France and the UK for the no-fly zone to curb increasing violence in Libya.
But Moscow, which has strong military and commercial ties with the Qaddafi regime, yesterday imposed an entry ban on Col Qaddafi and froze all financial operations in Russia involving his family and top security aides.
After the Arab League also called yesterday for a no-fly zone over Libya, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrovasked for more information on the request and said Russia would consider any proposal put before the Security Council.
"We need to understand specifically what the Arab states want to see," Mr Lavrov said in Moscow.
Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) appealed yesterday to foreign companies to resume oil exports from the country and for industry employees to return to work.
That followed a push by forces loyal to Col Qaddafi to drive out rebels from the eastern Libyan oil port of Brega.
"Libyan oil terminals have become safe . all employees are asked to return to their jobs in all oil facilities. And we urge [foreign] firms to send their tankers to load and unload," Libyan state television said on Sunday, quoting NOC.
Shokri Ghanem, the chairman of NOC and de facto oil minister, said operations at the Zawiya refinery in the west of Libya had resumed on Thursday.
But so far there is scant evidence that international oil companies are heeding the requests.
Libya is heavily dependent on foreign workers to keep its oil installations running and most are believed to have fled the country.
Renewed western government and UN sanctions against Libya have recently deterred all but Asian customers from dispatching oil tankers to Libyan ports.
European and US oil refiners are unlikely to resume imports while banks in their countries freeze the assets of key members of the Qaddafi regime who directly benefit from NOC revenues.
Germany reported yesterday more than ?10 billion (Dh51.26bn) of Qaddafi family assets had been frozen by various banks in that country.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Libyan rebel movement based in Benghazi has warned of consequences for countries that fail to support the uprising against Mr Qaddafi.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head of the opposition National Council, has said any post-Qaddafi leadership in Libya would deny access to oil for countries that did not support the revolt.
Oil policies would be adjusted "according to the positions countries are taking towards Libya in these difficult times", he said. Mr Abdel-Jalil's warning appeared to be aimed at Russia and China.
"We are looking for the international community to shoulder its responsibility and impose a no-fly zone and restrictions on the ships so that no more weapons are used against civilians," he told the Financial Times.
On Sunday, underscoring Libya's dependence on foreign oil expertise, Mr Ghanem said the country's crude output had fallen "drastically".
He said he had asked Italy's biggest oil firm Eni for help to extinguish a fire at the Ras Lanuf oil terminal in eastern Libya, which Qaddafi forces recently snatched from rebel control.
"There's quite a big fire in one of our . kerosene storage units and we're trying to fight it," Mr Ghanem told Associated Press.
"I spoke with Eni's chairman to see if they can help us because [the refinery] is on the Mediterranean and it affects the environment."
Eni declined to comment.
tcarlisle@thenational.ae