(Removes reference to subsidies in para 21 of Nov 22 story after Shawki corrected his comment)
* Estimates 80 pct of 2012 exports to be sold via contract
* Contract pricing based on monthly OSPs
* Says new rules aim to prevent cronyism, corruption
* Libyan firms will have to match international offers
By Emma Farge
ISTANBUL, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) will inform the winners for its 2012 crude oil contracts within the next two weeks, a senior NOC official told Reuters on Tuesday, as a handful of top officials meet with around 50 hopeful clients from oil majors and top trading houses this week.
The process will determine who wins the best access to the OPEC member’s prized light, sweet oil with daily exports worth a nominal $141 million a day once exports return to full flows following wartime disruptions.
Reuters reported last week that the NOC forecasts its export levels to reach pre-war levels of about 1.3 million barrels per day by the end of 2012, indicating that flows onto the international market may increase more swiftly than expected.
“We are asking clients to send their requirements and we will give the allocations for those who meet our criteria in 10 days or two weeks,” said Ahmed Shawki, general manager for oil marketing, adding that successful parties would then be invited to Tripoli in December to sign contracts.
Libya issued tenders for 2012 oil product import requirements earlier this month.
Shawki, who left the NOC after 12 years in 2007 shortly after the arrival of Shokri Ghanem as chairman, said he and a handful of senior NOC officials planned to meet with top traders and executives from a total of 48 oil companies this week.
These include major oil companies and former Libyan customers like Eni and ConocoPhillips as well as oil trading houses Trafigura and Vitol and Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley. MS.N
The exact breakdown of spot volumes versus term volumes was not yet available but Shawki estimated that around 80 percent of available supplies in 2012 would be sold via fixed term contracts, based on monthly official selling prices.
“The big portion will be term. From time to time we will have spot, maybe 20 percent,” he said.
Price levels will be competitive, he added.
“We are looking to show we are as loyal to our country as those that fought in the war by getting the upmost value for our crude. ”
The NOC will closely examine the ability of the oil companies to make regular payments, he said, as financial institutions are growing more reluctant to lend in an atmosphere of mounting concern about European government debt.
“We will evaluate all of our clients and only if they fit our credit criteria. We have to screen them out if they don‘t. We are very concerned about the international crisis,” he said.
Before the uprising against Gaddafi in February, Europe was the biggest buyer of Libya’s oil with Italy alone taking around 32 percent.
The process for allocating crude contract will be an important test of the NOC leaders’ ability to do international business without falling into the cronyism that critics say characterised the late stages of the Gaddafi era.
Shawki said he had instituted a policy whereby NOC members in the oil marketing department could no longer accept personal gifts from oil companies looking to ingratiate themselves with management.
He said he had refused a number of gifts from traders over the past two days of meetings, which he deduced from the packaging to be designer pens.
“They used to bring gifts like watches and pens and invite the NOC to expensive restaurants and nightclubs with girls. They would try to spot a weakness. Now we don’t accept anything no gifts, no dinners,” he said. Shawki said that companies like Petrochina and Unipec whose government was slow to recognise Libya’s new rulers would be invited to submit allocations for 2012 contracts and that meetings with them were scheduled this week.
He added that under new rules Libyan oil firms like Tamoil, based in the Netherlands, which were previously involved in trading oil and oil products would now have to compete on the same terms as international companies.
“We will treat them as any other commercial player. We said to them you need to match our best price or do better,” he said.
The NOC is gradually recouping billions of dollars from oil trading houses that was trapped by sanctions during the revolution, he added, but said that asset freezes was still preventing some from being released. (Reporting by Emma Farge)