Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Libya to seek larger OPEC quota in Dec.: official

By Benoit Faucon

BENGHAZI (MarketWatch)-Libya will seek a larger production quota at a December OPEC meeting and wants oil prices of no more than $100 a barrel in the long-run, a top oil official with the country said Tuesday, signaling the new Libyan regime could play a more moderate role within the producers' group.

"We will discuss the possibility of increasing our quota" at a meeting Dec. 14 in Vienna, the first time the TNC will represent Libya within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said Mustafa el-Huni, a member of the National Transitional Council, or NTC, with responsibility for oil.

El-Huni didn't rule out requesting an absence of production allocation as OPEC has granted to Iraq following war, but he emphasized a higher quota first.

Libya's current quota stands at about 1.5 million barrels a day. It resumed production in recent days to 160,000 barrels a day after months of a virtual shutdown after the civil war erupted in February. Experts disagree on how long it will take Libya to resume output to pre-war levels.

El-Huni also said that the oil price "should not exceed $100 [a barrel] in the long term" to ensure the stability of the oil market. He added "between $80 to $100" a barrel is a good price, referring to the U.K. Brent contract, which his currently above $100.

More moderate members of OPEC, such as Saudi Arabia, are defending similar price levels, along with higher production when needed to balance the interests of both consumers and producers. Under Gadhafi, Libya was part of an OPEC faction that included Iran and Venezuela which defended higher prices and lower output.

El-Huni doesn't have an official ministerial position in the NTC. He declined to comment on reports that have said he would be oil minister when this position is created on a stand-alone basis.

The oil portfolio is currently combined with finance under the aegis of minister Ali Tarhouni.

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