'Defected' Libya Official on Secret Gadhafi Mission Shokri Ghanem reportedly trying to maintain ties with oil companies By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted May 25, 2011 8:47 AM CDT 0 comments Comments Shokri Ghanem talks to journalists prior to the start of the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Oct. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak) (Newser) – Libyan oil honcho Shokri Ghanem reportedly defected earlier this month, but Reuters now reports that he may actually be on a secret mission for Moammar Gadhafi. A Libyan opposition source and a source at a large international oil company say Ghanem is attempting to maintain Libya’s ties with big oil companies by meeting with oil reps in Tunisia to discuss contracts. "He was holding court in some form,” says the oil company source. Another source at a different oil company adds, "It is completely false that Shokri Ghanem is no longer working for Gadhafi’s government.” Ghanem, one of the most senior government figures in Libya, is reportedly trying to reassure oil companies that contracts would not be voided even though the Libya uprising has prevented them from being able to conduct oil operations in the country. If Gadhafi is able to re-establish control, presumably this would allow the oil companies to make a quick return to Libya.