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OPEC recognises NTC as Libya representative

The OPEC now recognises the National Transitional Council as Libya's representative, OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri said on Monday.

September 19, 2011 11:10 by

The United Nations approved a Libyan request to accredit envoys of the country’s interim government as Tripoli’s sole representatives at the world body on Friday, effectively recognising the NTC and paving the way for OPEC to allow the NTC to represent the North African oil exporter.

“OPEC will recognise the NTC… and they will sit in the same chair,” Badri told the Gulf Intelligence energy forum in Dubai on Monday.

The OPEC members that did not vote to officially recognise the interim government of Libya in New York on Friday may maintain bilateral relations with the ruling NTC, but the UN vote means the NTC now has a place at the OPEC table.

Libyan interim government forces were still battling troops loyal to ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi over the weekend, a month after taking the capital Tripoli.

Since failing to convince other OPEC members at their last meeting in Vienna in June to raise output to make up for the loss of Libyan crude since February, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf OPEC allies have raised their oil production over the last few months.

Badri said those countries are certain to gradually decrease their output as Libya’s production recovers towards pre-war levels.

Badri, who was Libyan energy minister 1990-2000 and headed its National Oil Corporation (NOC) until 2006, said production in fields in central Libya could be back to pre-war levels in 15 months, while other areas might take longer.

Some Libyan oil fields have recently restarted production but it remains unclear when they will return to pre-war levels of around 1.6 million barrels per day.

Badri said the U.S. economy is not growing as much as OPEC had forecast it would in early 2011 and that U.S. weakness, combined with European debt woes, are starting to affect oil demand.

Western stimulus packages are not really working to generate jobs of economic activity, in the U.S. and Europe, he said, but OPEC expects the Chinese economy to grow 8.5 percent next year, down from OPEC’s 9 percent growth forecast for 2011, Badri said.

He said that about $16-20 of current oil prices is a supply risk premium, reflecting Libya’s output cut and jitters over other supply problems.

Badri said the International Energy Agency’s new director, Maria van der Hoeven, had assured OPEC that the consumer countries of the OECD will not repeat their oil stocks release in June, which was widely condemned by oil producers in the group.

“The IEA assured me that that is it, and that it will cooperate with OPEC,” Badri said, referring to the surprise release of OECD oil stocks announced in the weeks after OPEC failed to agree an increase in output to dampen rising oil prices.

The IEA’s new director has pledged to improve cooperation with OPEC, he said. (Amena Bakr and Daniel Fineren; Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk)

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