As Libya edges towards a future without Muammar Gaddafi, the prospect of oil reserves are whetting the appetite of hungry industrial nations.
Over seventy Chinese companies had been operating in Libya before the war, which involved about 36,000 staff and 50 projects. Russian companies, including oil firms Gazprom Neft and Tatneft, also had projects worth billions of dollars in Libya. Brazilian firms such as Petrobras and construction company Odebrecht were also in business there. The UK’s BP has Billions in development interests. Italian oil company Eni led the charge back into Libya on Monday as rebels hailed the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule and as traders watched for the return of Libyan crude to the market.
Gaddafi’s fall will reopen the doors to Africa’s largest oil reserves and give new players such as Qatar’s national oil company and trading house Vitol the chance to compete for lucrative contracts, but rebels warned Russian and Chinese firms may be frozen out for failing to support the rebellion.
We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil,” Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told Reuters.
The comment signals a potential setback for those countries which opposed tough sanctions on Gaddafi or pressed for more talks and would leave European and US companies to capture billions of dollars’ worth of oil exploration and construction contracts in the OPEC member nation.