With the fall of Gadaffy The New York Times carries the story that the scramble to secure access to Libya’s oil wealth has already begun.
Although Libya exported just 1.3 million barrels of oil a day, less than 2 percent of world supplies, only a few other countries can supply equivalent grades of the sweet crude oil that many refineries around the world depend on. Italy in recent years has relied on Libya for more than 20 percent of its oil imports. France, Switzerland, Ireland and Austria all depended on Libya for more than 15 percent of their imports before the fighting began.
Western nations — especially the NATO countries that provided crucial air support to the rebels — want to make sure their companies are in prime position to pump the Libyan crude. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy said on state television on Monday that the Italian oil company Eni “will have a No. 1 role in the future” in the North African country. Mr. Frattini even reported that Eni technicians were already on their way to eastern Libya to restart production. Eni, with BP of Britain, Total of France, Repsol YPF of Spain and OMV of Austria, were all big producers in Libya before the fighting broke out, and they stand to gain the most once the conflict ends.
It is unclear whether a rebel government would honor the contracts struck by the Qaddafi regime or what approach it would take in negotiating new production-sharing agreements with companies willing to invest in established oil fields and explore for new ones. Even before taking power, the rebels suggested that they would remember their friends and foes and negotiate deals accordingly. Abdeljalil Mayouf, a spokesman for the Libyan rebel oil company Agoco, was quoted by Reuters as saying. “But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.” Russia, China and Brazil did not back strong sanctions on the Qaddafi regime, and they generally supported a negotiated end to the uprising. All three countries have large oil companies that are seeking deals in Africa.
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