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Libya deals 'for friendly countries'

TRIPOLI: Libya is considering offering oil block contracts directly to China, India and other nations it sees as friends.

The Libyan government threatened to base decisions on future oil deals on how other nations react to the uprising seeking to oust Muammar Gadaffi.

Shukri Ghanim, who sets Libya's oil policy as the chairman of National Oil Corporation, said the country would honour its current commitments while trying to recover from a huge drop in production.

As for future deals, "a friend in need is a friend indeed," he said. "If someone stood with you, you cannot tell him no."

Any government that opposes Gadaffi, Ghanim said, "will be treated differently from the one who did not come and start spreading rumours from out of the blue."

Oil companies have pulled out staff and shut operations in the country, formerly Africa's third-largest producer, due to the uprising against Gaddafi's rule, leading to a sharp reduction in output.

Ghanem, speaking about future projects, said Libya was considering awarding contracts directly to new partners instead of using its more traditional open bidding process.

"We will be looking at giving direct block contracts to countries ready to come and work in the country, because we want to increase production," he said.

He said Libya would look into the possibility of working closer with partners such as India, China, Brazil and others in the future.

Ghanem said, however, that the government would honour all existing contracts with Western firms and called on foreign workers to return to help restore output.

"Of course, as you know, production has declined drastically because of the dramatic events," he added.

He said crude production had fallen to less than 400,000 barrels per day from 1.6 million before the crisis. He warned that oil exports might halt altogether if output is not restored.

"We will be able to restore most fields but we need the foreign workforce to come back ... We call on them to send back their workers," he said.



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