Libya foreign currency assets about $168 billion: source

DUBAI Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:14pm EDT

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Libya's assets in foreign currencies have reached around $168 billion and the country could return to oil production in the next 3 to 6 months, Libya's former central bank governor said in an interview with Al-Arabiya television on Tuesday.

Forces still loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fought rebels in Tripoli on Tuesday, extending a conflict that looked close to conclusion on Monday after rebels swept into Tripoli in tandem with an uprising within the city.

Western powers, backing the disparate opposition to Gaddafi, have moved ahead with plans to support a new administration with which they hope to exploit Libya's oil wealth. They renewed calls for the 69-year-old autocrat to surrender.

"We have good people working in the oil sector since the 50's," Farhat Omar Bin Guidara told the Dubai-based channel.

"I think 3 to 6 months will be enough to return to oil production," he added.

Bin Guidara said in May he was joining the rebels seeking to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Bin Guidara said on Tuesday that of the country's $168 billion in foreign currency assets, $104 billion was with the central bank, $460 million with the Libyan investment fund and some $30 billion or more in United States and European treasury bonds.

The rest was spread over special funds, investment funds and foreign loans, he added.

Libya will be able to restart some oil output soon, in a few months, although it will take as long as 18 months to reach the pre-war level, the country's former top oil official Shokri Ghanem said on Monday.

(Reporting by Martina Fuchs and Jason Benham; Editing by Anna Willard)

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