France strikes oil deal to exploit third of Libyan reserves
PARIS - France has secured a deal with Libya's rebel interim rulers to exploit a third of the country's oil reserves, the daily Liberation reported Thursday, citing a letter to the emir of Qatar.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he "had no knowledge" of a "formal accord" but it was "logical" that countries like France which helped the National Transitional Council take power should take part in reconstruction.
Liberation said a letter from the NTC dated April 3 informed the emir, another major backer of the revolt, of a deal "to assign 35 percent of crude oil to France in exchange for its total and permanent support of our Council."
The report was an embarrassment for France as it prepared to host later on Thursday a meeting of world leaders and senior officials dubbed "friends of Libya" to win recognition for the NTC and its interim rule in Libya.
On August 29, the Italian oil giant ENI signed its own deal with the NTC to restart its oil production in Libya and restart a major gas pipeline running from the Libyan oil fields under the Mediterranean to Italy.