Foreign firms in Libya to get equal opportunities

All international energy companies will be given equal opportunities to work in Libya, the country's top oil official said yesterday after US firms were caught up in a row between Washington and Tripoli.

"We are going to give a chance to every international oil company, whether they are from East or West," Shokri Ghanem, head of the state-run National Oil Corporation, said at an energy conference. "There is no difference between companies."

Libya is demanding that Washington apologise after a US official made caustic comments about Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Last week Ghanem summoned the local heads of US energy companies to convey Tripoli's anger.

US energy companies including Exxon Mobil, Occidental and Hess have invested heavily in Libya since the country emerged from decades of global isolation.

Ghanem, who was speaking yesterday at the Oil and Gas Libya conference in Tripoli, made no specific mention of the dispute with Washington. The row centres on a speech Gaddafi made last month calling for a "jihad" against Switzerland.


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