NOC: 'Ghanem back next week'

'Not AWOL': Libya's NOC says chairman Shorki Ghanem is still in charge

Shokri Ghamen is still chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation and will return to the Tripoli office at the weekend, a source within the beleaguered company claims.

The high-profile de facto oil minister is also currently in Tunis and has been in contact with the company he is widely reported to have quit as recently as last week, sources within NOC told Upstream today.

The claims come amid fresh reports citing a Tunisian government official that the former prime minister has abandoned besieged Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and left his post at NOC.

When quizzed on the current whereabouts of Ghanem, one source at the oil company told Upstream: "Mr Ghanem is not here now," continuing: "He is in Tunis". The person was, however, unwilling to disclose what Ghanem was doing in the neighbouring Tunisian capital.

Another source close to Ghamen also confirmed that he is no longer in Tripoli or even Libya but insisted he remains chairman of NOC.

"Yes, Mr Ghanem is still in charge of the company, but he is not here this week," the source claimed. When asked when he would return, the source replied: "I think next week. Maybe Saturday."

Asked why Ghanem was currently out of the country, the source would only say he was at "meetings" but would not disclose where he had been or with whom he had met.

The source also claimed to have personally been in contact with the head of the company, which is currently subject to international sanctions, as recently as last week.

Ghanem is widely reported to have defected from his position and Libya with suggestions last week that he was due to fly to Austria but never arrived.

Today news wire Reuters quotes Tunisia's Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi as saying: "I believe and I suspect Mr Ghanem just left Libya and that he is not any more working with the Gaddafi regime. Probably that's why he came to Tunisia".

Ghanem was widely tipped as having fled to the southern Tunisian island of Djera. Kefi continued: "Only God knows what is in Mr Ghanem's mind".

In an intriguing twist, Guma el-Gamaty, the UK coordinator for Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council, last week wrote in a posting on social media network Twitter that one of Gaddafi’s sons from his first marriage was receiving treatment at a hospital in Djera. Members of the son’s family were with him and there was a heavy security presence, el-Gamaty claimed.

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