Libya looks to oil as rebuilding begins

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 02, 2011 10:30 AM
Libya looks to oil as rebuilding begins

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) - Libya is counting on quickly restoring oil production to revive its economy and five international oil firms are already back and working to resume operations, senior officials in the interim council's reconstruction team said Friday.

The interim government's reconstruction minister Ahmed Jehani told Reuters during a meeting with donor groups and post-conflict rebuilding experts that the technical expertise of foreign contractors would be key to getting oil flowing again.

"The issue of damage is not much and you can get procurement very fast. This is helped by the fact the producing wells are under contract to international firms, if they feel they can deploy their people," said Jehani, also chairman of Libya's stabilization team.

The head of operations for the interim council's stabilization team, Aref Ali Nayed, said the five companies back in Libya included Italy's ENI. "These are companies that have assets in the country," he said.

Jehani and Nayed met experts from groups such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and USAID to discuss Libya's needs for the weeks and months ahead as the North African state starts rebuilding after months of conflict.

The meeting followed a high-level international conference in Paris Thursday on Libya's political and economic rebuilding, where world leaders pledged to free up more Libyan government assets frozen under U.N. sanctions.

Jehani said he hoped the swift unfreezing of a total of $15 billion would reduce the need for loans as Libya works to restore vital services and make a start on reconstruction.

"We are not seeking any bridge financing at the moment, we are after our own money," he said.

U.S. and French officials also said the meeting was mainly about listening to the National Transitional Council's needs.

"It is not a donors conference," one U.S. official said, adding that the aim was not to drum up aid pledges.

In order for Libya's new leaders to obtain aid from bodies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, they would need to be recognized by the IMF, which says it would need such a move to be supported by its 187 members.