Bloomberg News

Libya Forming Cabinet Amid Struggle to Take Holdout Towns

September 21, 2011

(Updates with comments from stabilization team starting in seventh paragraph.)

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Libya’s new rulers extended talks to form a government while their troops fought to oust Muammar Qaddafi’s loyalists from Bani Walid and Sirte.

Libya’s National Transitional Council Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said the government will be announced within 10 days, according to Al Jazeera. “Most of the work has been done,” it quoted him as saying yesterday at a Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in New York. “It is a question of the number of ministries and the location of the ministries.”

Since moving to Tripoli from its eastern base in Benghazi, where the uprising began, the NTC has been working to stabilize the economy and establish its authority over factions that rebelled against Qaddafi, including the council in Misrata, the main rebel stronghold in the west during the seven-month war.

Fighting has continued around cities controlled by Qaddafi loyalists, including his hometown Sirte and Bani Walid, after talks on their surrender broke down earlier this month. NTC officials say that some of Qaddafi’s closest associates may be hiding out in the two towns. Sirte lies 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Tripoli, the capital, and the mountain town of Bani Walid is 140 kilometers (90 miles) south of Tripoli.

Transitional council forces have captured a third holdout town, Sabha, in the southern desert, and two nearby villages, Al Arabiya television reported today.

Commercial Relations

The NTC has established diplomatic and commercial ties abroad, hosting the leaders of the U.K., France and Turkey in the past week in Tripoli. The African Union yesterday became the latest body to recognize the council as the representative of the Libyan people, according to a statement on the website of the South African president’s office.

Libya’s central bank has enough money to meet needs for three months and possibly six, Wafik Shater, a member of the Libyan Stabilization Team, told reporters in Dubai today. Several foreign companies, including BP Plc and Total SA, have said they are preparing to return to Libya.

Ninety percent of all banks branches are open in Libya and the stock market aims to restart trading “in the foreseeable future,” said Faisel Gergab, the team’s program manager.

Banks Returning

HSBC Holdings Plc plans to resume its operations in Libya “shortly”, Hatem Gheriani, an official from the bank said at a conference in Dubai today. Qatar National Bank Group said yesterday it is reopening its representative office Libya. PT Medco Energi Internasional, an Indonesian energy company, also plans to resume operation of its Area 47 oil block next month, Director Lukman Mahfoedz said in Jakarta yesterday.

The U.S. will reopen its embassy in Tripoli this week, U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday after meeting with NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil in New York.

In New York, 66 delegations, most represented by a head of state, discussed Libyan developments and pledged support for the new leadership, said Derek Chollet, senior director for strategic planning on Obama’s National Security Council.

Chollet said that Obama raised with Abdel Jalil the U.S. concerns about security of Libya’s chemical weapons stocks and conventional weapons, such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles able to be used by terrorists. Obama met with Abdel Jalil and Jibril for about 30 minutes, he said.

Credit Line Secured

The North African country, holder of the continent’s largest crude reserves, has secured a six-month credit line to buy gasoline, gasoil and fuel oil, Gergab said. The cargoes for delivery to Misrata and Zawya started on Aug. 20, he said.

Libya’s Arabian Gulf Oil Co. will be ready to export 1 million barrels of crude within one week as its marketing department evaluates several offers for shipments, Hassan Bolifa, a management committee member, said yesterday in a telephone interview from Benghazi. The crude will be loaded at Marsa El-Hariga export terminal in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Crude for November delivery slipped as much as 70 cents to $86.22 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $86.43 at 9:51 a.m. London time. Brent oil for November settlement gained 24 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $110.81 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange.

Three of the five oil refineries in Libya have restarted operations, according to local officials. The Tobruk, Sarir and Zawiya facilities are producing a total of about 60,000 barrels a day.

The Ras Lanuf oil refinery, Libya’s largest, may be able to resume production sometime next month, an official at Ras Lanuf Oil & Gas Processing Company said today.

Libya’s five plants have a total production capacity of 378,000 barrels of crude a day, according to the International Energy Agency.

--With assistance from Yoga Rusmana in Jakarta, Inal Ersan in Dubai, Margaret Talev and Terry Atlas in Washington, Nidaa Bakhsh and Caroline Alexander in London and Christopher Stephen in Misrata, Libya. Editors: Karl Maier, Louis Meixler

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net; Vivian Salama in Abu Dhabi at vsalama@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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