From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 07 2011 - 17:28:50 EDT
Unseemly Scrabble for Libya's Post-Gaddafi Oil Assets Underway
by John Daly
September 7, 2011
-Gaddafi-Oil-Assets-Underway.html> Oil Price - While NATO members, led by
France, piously proclaimed at the onset of their military offensive in Libya
that their concerns were solely humanitarian, a covert tussle to gain a
commanding lead in developing the country's energy riches in light of
Colonel Gaddafi's departure is well underway.
The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector,
which contribute about 95 percent of export earnings, 25 percent of GDP, and
80 percent of government revenue.
Prior to the outbreak of conflict, Libya was exporting about 1.3-1.4 million
barrels per day from production estimated at roughly 1.79 million barrels
per day, of which approximately 280,000 barrels per day were indigenously
consumed. But analysts believe that with reconstruction, Libya could soon be
exporting 1.6 million barrels per day of high-quality, light crude.
But current production is the proverbial mere drop in the bucket. Libya has
the largest proven oil reserves in Africa with 42 billion barrels of oil and
over 1.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Causing oil company
executives from Houston to Beijing to drool on their Gucci loafers, only 25
percent of Libya's territory has been explored to date for hydrocarbons.
Libya is already Europe's single largest oil supplier, the second largest
oil producer in Africa, and the continent's fourth largest natural gas
supplier, and already dominates the Southern Mediterranean's petroleum
sector. According to the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC), more than 50
international oil companies are already present in the Libyan market.
So, peering into Libya's future, who's actually ahead?
On 3 April, a letter was allegedly sent by Libya's National Transitional
Council (NTC) to a coalition partner, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa
Al Thani, which mentioned that France would take "35 percent of crude oil.in
exchange for its total and permanent support" of the NTC. France's
Liberation daily reported on Thursday that it had a copy of the letter,
which stated that the NTC's Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam, would
negotiate the deal with France. In 2010 France was the second purchaser of
Libyan oil after Italy, with over 15 percent of its "black gold" imported
The number one National Transition Council, Moustapha Abdeljalil recently
reported that the States would be rewarded "according to support" given to
While NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil has not hidden the fact that the NTC
would assign a higher priority for reconstruction and the allocation of oil
contracts to countries that supported their uprising, remarking that nations
would be rewarded "according to the support" given to the insurgents, the
NTC's UK representative, Guma al-Gamaty, said that future oil contracts
would be granted "on the basis of merit, not patronage. The contracts will
be concluded in a transparent manner."
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe solemnly denied during a radio interview
any knowledge of a "formal" or specific deal but brightly added that it
would be "logical" for countries like France, which helped the NTC in its
struggle against Gaddafi, to take part in reconstruction.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy was the major European advocate for armed
intervention in Libya and his administration was the first officially to
recognize the NTC as "the sole, legitimate representative of the Libyan
people" and the country's sole governmental authority, as well as lobbying
other nations to recognize the NTC.
Seeking a share of "la gloire", France was also the first state to commence
attacks on 19 March against Gaddafi's armed forces in Benghazi, and along
with fellow NATO member Britain has since provided the majority of the
military equipment and personnel used during NATO's operations in Libya.
Going into grey areas of international law in its eagerness to oust Gaddafi,
France also supplied some weaponry to opposition forces in Libya, a move
that came under harsh criticism because of the total arms embargo imposed by
the UN Security Council on arms deliveries to any side in the conflict.
NTC's Paris-based envoy Mansour Sayf al-Nasr denied that such a letter had
been sent or that any such pledge had been given. But no one was
backpedalling more furiously than Information Minister Shammam, who intoned
that such an arrangement was unthinkable.
"It's a joke. It's false," Shammam said.
Well, if you cannot believe an Information Minister, who can you trust?
Sleazy journalists? It will certainly be interesting to see how the issue
plays out in the days ahead, and if France does indeed get it 35 percent cut
of the loot, which at present production rates, would average about 500,000
barrels per day.
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