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Fri 1 Apr 2011 05:58 PM

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Rebels want oil exempted from Libyan sanctions

Top rebel official says Qatar is willing to provide fuel, medicine, food as part of deal to market oil

Rebels want oil exempted from Libyan sanctions
oil, energy, black gold

The rebel movement in

eastern Libya is discussing plans to exempt its oil exports from

sanctions and has also raised the issue with a UN envoy, a top

rebel financial official said on Friday.

Ali Tarhouni, the rebel official in charge of economic,

financial and oil matters, said Qatar would provide fuel,

medicine, food and other humanitarian needs to rebels as part of

a deal to market oil from the rebel-held east of the country.

Much of Libyan oil production comes from fields in the east

of Libya, an area controlled by rebels seeking to oust Muammar

Gaddafi. But output has dwindled because shipments have halted,

and there is limited storage and refining capacity.

UN diplomats in New York said on Monday that UN

sanctions on Libya did not bar rebels from exporting oil as long

as they bypass firms linked to Gaddafi.

"Our demands are simple and clear. Our top priority is

lifting the sanctions that stop us exporting our oil," Tarhouni

told a news conference, adding the issue of lifting sanctions

had been raised with a visiting U.N. envoy, Abdelilah al-Khatib.

He said that Khatib, who was in the rebel-held stronghold of

Benghazi, had responded that he would convey the rebel request

to the United Nations.

Speaking earlier in the day, Tarhouni said: "What we want is

an exemption from the sanctions. This is our main problem. It is

very hard for us, it is an obstacle."

He said rebels were discussing an exemption with what he

described as "friends" in the international community, but did

not give details.

Qatar recognised Libyan rebels on Monday, a day after rebels

said the Gulf Arab state had agreed to market crude oil produced

from east Libyan fields no longer under the control of Gaddafi.

Providing further details of that deal, Tarhouni said: "The

Qataris agreed they would market crude oil for us, and we would

put the money in an escrow account. We will receive what we need

in fuel, medicine, food and humanitarian needs from them."

Tarhouni said rebels had set up a "quasi-ministry of oil"

and that oil staff were now working under that body or for the

east-based Arabian Gulf Oil Company (Agoco), which has said it

has cut ties with its parent, state-owned National Oil Corp.

Rebels continue to provide basic domestic fuel needs,

although towards the frontline of fighting during a rapid

advance by rebel forces earlier this week supply lines were

stretched and some fuel stations ran out of petrol.

Rebels had controlled all the oil terminals in the east

briefly this week but were ejected after Gaddafi's forces

bombarded their positions and chased them back east.

Gaddafi's forces now control Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, while

Brega is now on the frontline and rebels control Zueitina and

Tobruk further east.

Asked how the loss of Ras Lanuf or Brega could affect the

Qatari pact, Tarhouni said: "The deal has nothing to do with

Brega and Ras Lanuf. We are talking about oil production in the

southeast. The oil that flows from there is stored in liberated

areas," adding that the oil would be exported from Tobruk.

"The only delay is finding vessels that will carry the oil.

That is the only obstacle we have," he said.

Officials of Agoco, the main producer based in the east,

have said production was running about a quarter of the more

than 400,000 barrels per day the company produces under normal


U.N. Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 slapped

sanctions on Gaddafi, his family and inner circle, the National

Oil Corp, the central bank and other firms linked to Gaddafi.

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