China, Russia Could Lose If Gaddafi Falls

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Fathi Ben Shatwan, Libya's former energy minister who has fled to Europe amid rising violence in the North African country and his own opposition to the oppressive regime that remains in power there, said that China and Russia could be losers in Libya's oil business if there is a regime change.

Ben Shatwan said in an interview with AFP that he believes China and Russia have ''lost'' in the race for Libyan oil. He was referring to referring to the abstention of Moscow and Beijing from a UN Security Council vote that authorized military intervention by international powers in Libya, AFP reported.

Desperate to get Libyan oil flowing again, Muammar Gaddafi and his supporters in the energy ministry have threatened to give contracts that belong to Western oil majors to Chinese and Russian producers. Ben Shatwan said those threats show how desperate Gaddafi is to retain power.

The former energy minister also said that a new Libyan democracy could reward French and Italian oil companies for their support of the interim national council in Benghazi, AFP reported. That could mean good news for Total (TOT), Europe's third-largest oil company, and Eni SpA (E), the Western oil major with the largest Libyan presence, though those companies were not specifically mentioned by Ben Shatwan.