ENI leads Libya oil race, rebels warn Russia,China

Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:33pm GMT

By Svetlana Kovalyova and Emma Farge

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - Italian oil company Eni led the charge back into Libya on Monday as rebels swept into capital Tripoli, hailing the end of Muammar Gaddafi's rule and warning Russian and Chinese firms of contract revisions.

Gaddafi's fall will reopen the doors to the country with Africa's largest oil reserves. New players such as Qatar's national oil company and trading house Vitol are set to compete with established European and U.S. majors.

"We don't have a problem with western countries like Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil," Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told Reuters.

The comment signals the potential for a major setback for Russia, China and Brazil, which opposed tough sanctions on Gaddafi or pressed for more talks, and could mean a loss of billions of dollars worth of oil exploration and construction contracts in the African nation.

Shares in European firms -- Eni, Austria's OMV and France's Total -- rose by 3-5 percent, despite a modest fall in the price of oil, on hopes the firms would be able to quickly re-establish output from Libya.

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said staff from Eni, top producer in pre-war Libya, had arrived to look into a restart of oil facilities in the country's east as fighting between government troops and the rebels continued in Tripoli

in the west.

"The facilities had been made by Italians, by (oilfield services group) Saipem, and therefore it is clear that Eni will play a No. 1 role in the future," Frattini told state   Continued...

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