Qatar delivers oil products to Benghazi

Gulf state also confirms it has marketed one million barrels of Libyan crude oil on behalf of rebels.

Libyan protestor in Benghazi
Qatar said that it had so far marketed one million barrels of Libyan crude oil on behalf of the rebels [GALLO/GETTY]

Qatar has delivered four shipments of oil products, included diesel, petrol and LPG butane, to the Libyan city of Benghazi.

The Arab Gulf state also confirmed on Tuesday that it was marketing Libyan crude oil and buying fuel on behalf of the rebels trying to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

In a statement to the Qatar News Agency, an official source at Qatar’s ministry of energy and industry said one million barrels of Libyan crude oil had so far been marketed.

“The step … comes within the context of resolutions taken by the participating countries in the London conference on Libya held on March 29th,” the statement said.

The US said on Tuesday that it supported the marketing of Libyan crude oil by Qatar.

Mark Toner, a state department spokesman, said the Libyan opposition needed funds to operate and “we do certainly support [those] efforts”.

‘Working out a deal’

Trade sources told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that Libya’s oil trade is picking up after weeks of paralysis, saying political support from the West for Libyan rebels was enabling deals.

The sources told Reuters that Trafigura, a global trading business, planned to export a cargo of Libyan oil from the port of Brega and Vitol, an independent energy trading company, had shipped a petrol cargo into Benghazi.

A source said Vitol was in talks with the rebels to supply them with steady flows of petrol and was in the process of “working out a deal for the payments”.

Trafigura and Vitol declined to comment on the reports.

Qatar has been the Arab nation most staunchly supportive of the Libyan rebels, recognising the rebel Libyan National Transitional Council as representing the country.

The US and other members of the Libya contact group are due to meet on Wednesday in Doha, the Qatari capital, to review the situation in Libya.

Sanctions extended

The European Union agreed on Tuesday to extend sanctions against Libya, imposing an asset freeze on 26 companies and two people in its effort to force Gaddafi to relinquish power.

The additional measures include 11 energy companies, the last remaining in Libya’s oil and gas sector that had not faced sanctions before, and bring the total number of firms punished by EU measures to 46.

Thirty-eight people from Gaddafi’s inner circle also face a ban on travel to the EU and an asset freeze.    

Following a meeting in Luxembourg, EU ministers warned Gaddafi that more punitive measures could be imposed in the future to cut off his access to cash.

“Member states will continue to deprive the regime completely of all funding derived from exports of oil and gas,” they said in a statement. “[They] will take additional measures as necessary.”

At least 10 EU member states are participating in NATO-led operations against forces loyal to Gaddafi that enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and an arms embargo, and conduct air strikes targeting his military infrastructure.

The bloc may also launch a military-backed humanitarian mission with the aim of supplying food, shelter and other needs to refugee camps on the Tunisian and Egyptian borders that shelter people who have fled violence in Libya.     

The mission could also be used to secure transport of supplies directly to Libya, in particular the western city of Misurata, which has been under siege by Gaddafi’s forces for weeks.

The EU has yet to complete planning for the mission and is waiting for the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to make an official request.

Libya, the world’s 17th-largest oil producer, has been producing 1.6 million barrels per day before the conflict began.   

About 85 per cent of its production was exported to Europe.

Source: News Agencies

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