Ghanem 'to represent Libya at OPEC'

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, May 25 -- Libya’s Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem, missing for nearly a week, will represent the North African country at the June 8 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to a senior Libyan official.

"Shukri Ghanem will be representing (Libya) as the minister of oil" at the OPEC meeting in Vienna, according to Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister.

Kaim also told The Associated Press that Ghanem had been in touch a couple of times with the Libyan prime minister's office in Tripoli since his departure from the country. Kaim did not detail the contents of Ghanem’s remarks.

The statement by Kaim, yet to be confirmed by Ghanem, followed increasing uncertainty over Ghanem’s whereabouts and loyalties that has grown over the past week due to conflicting statements by Libyan rebels and officials of several governments.

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi added to the turmoil by saying that Ghanem had fled Libya and switched his loyalties away from Gadhafi.

“I believe and I suspect…Ghanem just left Libya and that he is not any more working with the Gadhafi regime,” said Kefi, when asked the whereabouts of Libya’s missing oil minister (OGJ Online, May 24, 2011).

Word of Ghanem’s plans to attend OPEC, if confirmed, will be ill-received by rebel forces who had hoped to send a representative of their own to the meeting.

“We want to attend, and will study the legal procedure,” said Mahmud Shammam, media spokesman for the rebel National Transitional Council. “We still do not know if OPEC will invite us,” he said (OGJ Online, May 20, 2011).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.



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