Libya: Another oil minister departs
Omran Abukraa, who had been named head of the Libyan national oil company in June after the last chief defected, was in Tunisia and unlikely to return to Libya, according to sources quoted by agencies.
The reported departure of Mr Abukraa was another blow to the Qaddafi regime, whose officials have been steadily fleeing since civil war broke out in February.
Yesterday rebels pushed into Tripoli as Libya's neighbour Tunisia became the latest nation to recognise the Transitional National Council, the rebel government.
Mr Abukraa had represented the Qaddafi regime's oil interests since June, when he was dispatched to an Opec meeting after the longtime top oil official, Shokri Ghanem, threw his support behind the uprising.
Mr Abukraa had been sent to Tunisia to convince international oil companies to return to Libya's oilfields, according to Dow Jones.
Earning oil revenues and supplying fuel to military forces has been a priority for loyalists and rebels alike.
But Libya's oil production of 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) has been almost completely cut off since international companies evacuated and oil installations came under military attack.
The loss of the Opec member's light, high-quality crude from the world market has played havoc with the oil price, which rose to US$127 a barrel in April.
Arabian Gulf Oil Company (Agoco), the Libyan national oil company subsidiary based in Benghazi that has aligned itself with the rebels, said it could restart pumping at two of its largest fields within weeks.
"Our fields are under maintenance and we're still waiting for security," Abdeljalil Mayouf, the information manager for Agoco, told Reuters on Friday.
"When the security is OK we will start. Perhaps two or three weeks after the improvement in security."
But a return to pre-conflict pumping levels could take three years, warned the energy consultancy Wood MacKenzie.
"The recovery period will extend if production remains shut in for longer, as infrastructure continues to deteriorate," the consultancy, based in Edinburgh, wrote this month. "There is unlikely to be any increase in production or restart of exports while Libya's oil infrastructure is open to sabotage by either side."
Libya has the potential to produce 3 million bpd, it added.
* with agencies
Published: August 22, 2011 04:00 AM