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Fri 26 Aug 2011 09:57 AM

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Rebels eye Libyan oil restart within 2/3 months

Senior official says full oil volumes could be reached in about a year as rebels sweep through Tripoli

Rebels eye Libyan oil restart within 2/3 months

The Libyan rebel government hopes to restart oil exports within two to three months and reach full volumes in about a year, Ali Tarhouni, the official in charge of financial and oil matters told Reuters from Libya's oil ministry in Tripoli.

It was the first time an official from the rebel National Transitional Authority was seen in the capital taking up the reins of government, after rebel fighters swept into the city four days ago aiming to topple Muammar Gaddafi.

"The NOC (National Oil Corporation) initial estimate is that we can have about 500,000 to 600,000 barrels within two to three months. And then we ramp this up to the normal, which is about 1.6 (million). My expectation is that this will be done within a year or so," Tarhouni said.

Damage on most of Libya's oilfields from the civil war has been minimal, he said.

"The state of the oil fields are a lot better than expected," he said. "Overall if we want to put a number on it, the average is about 10 percent or so. Most of the fields are more than 90 percent fine."

He added that Libya would continue to honour existing contracts with oil companies. Asked if there would be any block for companies from countries that had not supported the rebels, he responded: "Not that I know of."

"We have contracts with most of the major companies. Wintershall, Shell, Repsol, Eni. We haven't signed any new contracts. These are pre-revolution contracts. We are going to continue those".

He also said it was too early to discuss awarding any new contracts: "It's the last thing on my mind."

"We're just going to put back things as they used to be. The NOC is the one that is practically running the oil industry. We will restructure that to make sure that it's nimble."

Asked who will be running the oil industry for the foreseeable future until a general election, Tarhouni said: "I'm in charge until they decide to use somebody else."

Tarhouni, formerly a US-based academic and opposition figure in exile, returned to take charge of economic, financial and oil matters on the rebels' executive committee.

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