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French want Total control of Libyan oil

Published time: August 24, 2011 06:00
Edited time: August 24, 2011 11:47

One of the first members of the French team in Bengazhi in March was a representative of Total, the French oil company (AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)

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French oil companies are likely to be among those hoping for lucrative oil contracts with a new government in Libya. But the cost of the intervention and the unknown agenda of the rebels could mean more losses than gains.

­France feels like a winner as the first power to recognize Libya's rebels, the first to bomb the country and now the first in talks with rebel leaders. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says victory gives him “great satisfaction.”

Opposition MP Jack Lang adds that “everyone can be thankful that France inspired action at the United Nations.” Corporations in states that voted for the UN intervention in Libya are certainly now rubbing their hands.

“One of the first members of the French team in Bengazhi in March was a representative of Total, the French oil company, and Total is not very far from all this of course,” says Rony Braumann, president of Doctors without Borders (1982-1994).

French oil giant Total has been named as this war's big winner. Rebel oil firm AGOCO has threatened to block Brazil, Russia and China for “political issues”. They are three states who refused strong sanctions against Gaddafi.

Those nations had vast contracts with the former regime. One Russian official says “we've lost Libya completely.”

“It's well known it's a war for oil, the so-called opposition government has promised to give the oil to France,” investigative journalist Michel Collon told RT.

France officially claims its war mission is over. But analysts tip it to secretly stay on in Libya, and make sure it profits.

France and the UK are maintaining their military presence in Libya, even though it's not part of the resolution,” Pierre Guerlain of Paris West University has said.

But keeping troops in the country means heavy costs drag on. Latest polls say most French people now oppose the military intervention. French MP and vice president of the National Front, Wallerand de Saint-Just, sees further bloodshed and a hefty price tag to deal with it.

“The war is far from over,” he said. “And this invasion is already costing much more than we get back.”

Fears are growing that Libya's new leaders are too divided to win the peace. Pierre Guerlain points to the rebels' murder of their military chief General Younes last month. Experts warn widespread rebel looting and executions mean France's problems may have only just begun.

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