Latest update: 18/05/2011
Libyan rebels hope to attend OPEC meeting
Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council has said it wants to represent the country at a meeting of oil-producing countries in Vienna in June. The news follows reports that the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation has defected.
By News Wires (text)
AFP - Libya's rebel National Transitional Council wants to represent the oil-rich country at June's OPEC meeting, spokesman Mahmud Shammam told AFP Wednesday, amid reports the oil minister has defected.
"We want to attend, and will study the legal procedure," said Shammam, media spokesman for the NTC.
"We still do not know if OPEC will invite us," he said.
Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem, who also chairs Libya's national oil company, left Libya over the weekend and entered into neighbouring Tunisia, a Tunisian official told AFP.
Ghanem had been due to travel to Vienna for the next meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries on June 8.
Shammam said that Ghanem was already in Vienna, but has not contacted the NTC.
"We have got confirmation from several sources that Shukri Ghanem is in his house in Vienna," he said.
"He has not been in touch with the NTC, and the council is not interested, nor in need for Mr. Ghanem, but we welcome defection by any official," he added.
Libya, a key crude-exporting nation that was producing some 1.7 million barrels a day (bpd) before the rebellion broke out in mid-February, has seen its output slashed since the revolt began.
According to the International Energy Agency, Libya's exports averaged 1.49 million bpd before the uprising, with 85 percent of that going to Europe.
The European Union last month added to its Libya sanctions list 26 energy firms accused of financing Kadhafi's regime, a move that Germany said amounted to a de facto oil and gas embargo.
A small number of export shipments have been made from rebel-held territory, delivered to market through Qatar Petroleum in an exemption to the sanctions.
But rebels controlling the east of the country said earlier this month they had no plans to resume significant oil exports as their current priority was to ensure oil installations were made secure.