August 20, 2008 / 9:27 PM / 10 years ago

Libya's oil output up to 2.0 mln bpd -Gaddafi son

TRIPOLI, Aug 20 (Reuters) - OPEC member Libya’s crude oil production rose to about 2.0 million barrels per day (bpd) currently from 1.3 million in 2003 as a result of the country’s improved ties with Europe and the United States, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son said on Wednesday.

Libya also earned $10 billion from contracts reached with foreign companies lured by its huge oil and gas potential, added Saif al Islam, one of Gaddafi’s most influential sons, said to have played a leading role in bringing Tripoli back into maintream international politics.

Libya holds Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves.

“We had begged foreign companies to come to Libya before 2003 but now the situation had changed in our favor,” Saif told a rally of youth in Sebha town, about 800 km (500 miles) south of Tripoli.

Saif said foreign companies, which owned up to a 75 percent share in oil operations in Libya in the past, now hold between 7 percent and 12 percent in oil and gas ventures while Libya holds the biggest remaining stake.

His speech was broadcast live by Libyan state television.

Tripoli had thawed ties with the West since 2003 to end decades of isolation and ostracism when Gaddafi scrapped a programme of prohibited weapons. (Writing by Lamine Ghanmi; Editing by David Gregorio)

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