By Patrick Donahue and Alaric Nightingale
April 5, 2011
Libyan rebels were pushed back from the central port of Brega by heavy fire from forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi as the opposition prepared to export crude oil for the first time since the conflict began six weeks ago.
Rebels retreated from Brega after capturing part of it yesterday, the Associated Press reported. Regime forces fired rockets and artillery at the rebels today, sending many of them back to the city of Ajdabiya, the AP reported. The oil tanker Equator, which can carry 1 million barrels, arrived at the Marsa al Hariga terminal near the port of Tobruk in opposition-controlled eastern Libya at about 2 p.m. time local time, according to AISLive Ltd. ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Libya’s conflict, which began with an uprising aimed at ending Qaddafi’s 42-year rule, has threatened to grind to a stalemate. The rebels, largely disorganized, have been unable to advance without help from NATO airstrikes.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization reported that the strikes by the U.S. and allies have destroyed nearly a third of Qaddafi’s heavy weapons, according to AP. The alliance said that Qaddafi’s forces attacking rebel-held Misrata have moved tanks and heavy weapons into city areas where NATO won’t strike them because of the risk of civilian casualties, AP said.
Oil FallsOil slipped from its highest level in more than 30 months as China boosted interest rates to restrain inflation, spurring speculation that demand may decline. Oil for May delivery dropped 22 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $108.25 a barrel at 2:17 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It traded as high as $108.78 a barrel yesterday, the highest price since Sept. 24, 2008. Futures have risen 25 percent in the past year.
Libyan rebels have “raised concerns about the lack of funds, as well as issues relating to the marketing and sale of oil and gas in Libya,” Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, the United Nations special envoy to Libya, told the UN Security Council yesterday, according to a statement on the Council’s website.
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