June 18, 2011 / 1:32 PM / in 8 years

Libya rebel oil chief says West failing insurgents

BENGHAZI, Libya, June 18 (Reuters) - Libya’s rebel oil chief accused the West on Saturday of failing to keep up its promises to deliver urgent financial aid, saying his authority had now run out of cash completely after months of fighting.

Speaking to Reuters in a rare interview in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, oil and finance minister Ali Tarhouni said all crude oil production had now come to a standstill due to damage caused by the fighting.

“We don’t have any (cash). We are running out of everything,” he said. “It’s a complete failure. Either they (Western nations) don’t understand or they don’t care.”

He added: “We are not producing any oil because of the damage. I don’t expect us to produce oil any time soon. The refineries have no crude oil, so they are not working.”

Asked how the rebel authority would survive, he said: “People died for this revolution and are still dying. We will find a way. One thing is for sure: We will never give up.”

Tarhouni said the rebel government was holding direct talks with foreign companies on future cooperation, adding that he had no qualms about dealing with those had earlier worked closely with Gaddafi’s government in the capital Tripoli.

Asked which companies he was talking to, he named Germany’s Wintershall (BASFn.DE) and France’s Total (TOTF.PA).

“We need help, we said we respect and abide by all contracts. The only enemy that I have is Gaddafi and his killers and thugs,” he said. “In terms of commerce and companies I have no enemies.” (Reporting by Maria Golovnina; editing by David Stamp)

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