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Libya to honor all Gaddafi oil deals: Jehani

The Kingdom of Libya flag placed in front of a refinery in Ras Lanuf
The Kingdom of Libya flag placed in front of a refinery in Ras Lanuf

By Mahmoud Habboush

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Libyan rebel government would honor all the oil contracts granted during the Muammar Gaddafi era, including those of Chinese companies, Ahmed Jehani, a senior rebel representative for reconstruction told Reuters in an interview.

"The contracts in the oil fields are absolutely sacrosanct," Jehani told Reuters Insider TV on Tuesday night.

"All lawful contracts will be honored whether they are in the oil and gas complex or in the contracting... We have contracts that were negotiated ... they were auctioned openly ... There's no question of revoking any contract."

A spokesman for rebel-run oil firm AGOCO warned on Monday Chinese and Russian firms could lose out on oil contracts for failing to back the rebellion against Gaddafi's 42-year rule.

China urged Libyan rebels on Tuesday to protect its investments in North Africa's biggest oil producing country.

Jehani, who chairs the rebel's Libya reconstruction team, said Chinese investment and financial assistance would be welcome to help rebuild the war-torn country.

"We are not making any discrimination," he said. "There will be issues as to how we're going to have to pay for this and whether we have the money... These are capacity issues in the non-oil sector, in the oil sector you have no problem."

He said the cost of repairing damaged oil installations would be less of a problem than the technical challenges of reviving production from the country's oil fields after months of stagnation.

"Luckily, we don't have much damage to the oil (installations) other than what has been reported," Jehani said.

"The most difficult part is how much pressure you have lost in the oil fields and how do you bring it up again, how can you clean up the sludge that's been created by the fact that you are not pumping oil."

Jehani said reconstruction efforts to bring oil and other industrial infrastructure back to normal would take at least nine months.

"Going back to baseline before the revolution, I would say if we get it all right, we are probably going to be within the nine months to one year," he said.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush, editing by Daniel Fineren and Alison Birrane)

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