MILAN Aug 22 Libya's leading foreign oil
producer, Eni of Italy led the charge back into Libya
on Monday as rebels swept into the Libyan capital Tripoli
hailing the end of Muammar Gaddafi's rule.
Gaddafi's fall will reopen the doors to Africa's largest oil
reserves with new players such as Qatar's national oil company
and trading house Vitol set to compete with established European
and U.S. companies.
Shares in European companies Italy's Eni , Austria's
OMV and France's Total rose by 3-5 percent
despite a $2 fall in the price of oil LCOc1 on hopes the firms
would be able to quickly re-establish output from Libya.
Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said staff from Eni
had arrived to look into a restart of oil facilities in the east
of the country even as fighting between government troops and
the rebels continued in Tripoli in the west.
"The facilities had been made by Italians, by (oil field
services group) Saipem , and therefore it is clear that
Eni will play a No. 1 role in the future," Frattini told state
OPEC member Libya was producing about 2 percent of global
oil output or 1.6 million barrels per day before the war and has
reserves to sustain that levels of production for 80 years.
OMV said it was not in any talks yet.
"We are observing the current situation and further
developments very closely. At the moment we are not holding any
bilateral talks with the (National) Transitional Council," an
OMV spokesman said.
Other major player in pre-war Libya France's Total
and Germany's Wintershall declined comment.
Analysts and industry observers have said Eni and Total
could emerge as the big winners in post-war Libya due to their
countries' heavy support for the rebels.
Big support from Qatar as well as oil trader Vitol, neither
producers in Libya before the war, may also guarantee a chunk of
reserves and influence goes to new players.
"Qatar will be a big player, Vitol might be an important
one. Shell (RDSa.L) is also looking to boost its role," said a
Western risk consultant with knowledge of negotiations.
Most global oil majors have taken a much more cautious
approach to events in Libya with BP , not yet a producer
in Libya, saying it was planning to return to explore but giving
"We fully intend to return to Libya to fulfil our contract
when conditions allow," said a spokesman for BP, which did not
have production in Libya before the war.
U.S. companies such as Marathon , ConocoPhillips
, Hess , Occidental have pulled out of
Libya at the start of the year and have had little direct
involvement in the events there since then.
"They are just sitting and waiting and trying to figure out
who will run the place," said the risk consultant who is
advising some U.S. firms on Libya.
For a factbox on Libyan oil industry
For a special report on Qatar and Libya
For a special report on Vitol and Libya
(Additional reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova, Sarah Young, Emma
Farge, Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov, editing Richard Mably)