March 10, 2010 / 11:04 AM / 7 years ago

Libya warns USA it may favour rival oil firms:paper

<p>Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi delivers a speech to mark the 33rd anniversary of the student's revolution in Sirte, about 600 km (370 miles) east of Tripoli, April 7, 2009.Ismail Zetouny</p>

RABAT (Reuters) - Libya is considering giving priority to Chinese and Russian firms over U.S. energy companies because of its diplomatic row with Washington, a newspaper quoted Libya's top oil official as saying on Wednesday.

Libya demanded an apology and warned that U.S. business interests could suffer after a State Department official made an acerbic comment about Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The official apologised on Tuesday.

The London-based Asharq al Awsat newspaper quoted Shokri Ghanem, head of Libya's NOC state energy firm, as saying that the diplomatic row had prompted Libya to start looking for new energy partners.

"We are considering giving priority to Chinese and Russian companies," the newspaper, which was monitored by Reuters in Rabat, quoted Ghanem as saying.

The paper said Ghanem was speaking after he attended a meeting on Tuesday between Gaddafi and the ambassadors of China and Russia.

That meeting took place before the State Department official apologised for his comments. Libyan officials have yet to say if they are satisfied by the apology.

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