LONDON -(Dow Jones)- It would be premature to discuss any exemption of Lybia from the oil production quota system with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Libya's oil head said Friday.
Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires in a telephone interview, Shokri Ghanem, the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp., said: "I don't think so" when asked if the North Africa country was seeking an exemption from OPEC's output ceiling system.
Libya's quota stands at 1.469 million barrels a day but its production has fallen dramatically following turmoil in the country.
Ghanem, a veteran of OPEC circles, said it is "too early to discuss" a special status for Libya. "We are keeping our quota," he said. Iraq is the only OPEC member exempt from the quota system.
However, the official, who is Libya's de facto oil minister, said the country's oil production is "down drastically," and production is being used for local consumption and refineries.
Libya normally produces around 1.6 million barrels of oil a day--slightly above its quota. But its exports are virtually at a standstill and have been replaced by some OPEC members, chiefly Saudi Arabia.
Several Libyan officials recently defected from Col. Muammar Gadhafi's regime, the highest profile of them Moussa Koussa, who resigned from his position as foreign affairs minister this week and is now in the U.K.
But Ghanem, asked if he was still in Libya, said: "I am in Tripoli, still working."
-By Benoit Faucon, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9266; benoit.faucon@ dowjones.com