Guma El-Gamaty, the Libyan National Transitional Council’s European spokesman, indicates Norway could get favourable treatment for oil concessions in return for its contribution to remove Colonel Gaddafi from power.
“If we compare a Norwegian company with such a Chinese or Russian company in the future, I think – and this is my opinion – that the countries that have supported the Libyan people will be given priority,” said Mr El-Gamaty to NRK on Thursday.
Statoil remains tight-lipped despite the Council’s (NTC) promises of favourable contracts. “We do not want to speculate on what possibilities might open up at a later date. The present situation is confusing and demanding,” said Bård Glad Pedersen, Statoil’s Communications Manager for Statoil’s international upstream activities, onshore and offshore.
The NTC’s surprising statement comes as the rebels open indirect negotiations with Gadaffi’s embattled government. Despite official denials from both sides, talks are apparently going ahead behind the scenes.
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials are said to be cautious about infringing Norway’s neutrality by being seen to take sides, as accepting the NTC’s offer could jeopardise the chances of Norway playing an independent role in future talks.
Kristin Halvorsen, leader of the environmentally concerned Socialist Left Party (SV), which has played a central part in bringing Norway’s jets home early, finds Libya’s remarks objectionable.
“Promising benefits regarding oil policy and management of natural resources on behalf of a people who have not had the opportunity to say something about this is completely unacceptable,” she says.