Libya’s western-backed rebels have used up their stock of crude oil, with no certainty about when production can resume from vulnerable south-eastern oil fields, the main exporting company under opposition control has said.
The small refinery at Tobruk, the maritime export terminal near the Egyptian border, shut down late last week after using up the last oil in storage, according to Abdel Jalil Mayouf, spokesman for Arabian Gulf Oil Co (Agoco).
The new authorities in eastern Libya have held major oil fields roughly 500 kilometres to the south since the February uprising, including the country’s largest, Sarir, with potential output of more than 200,000 barrels a day in normal circumstances.
But forces loyal to Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya’s ruler for nearly 42 years, hold nearby towns to the west, keeping the rebel oil fields exposed to surprise attacks across the open desert. Lightly armed mercenaries in small 4x4 vehicles have slipped through despite Nato air cover for anti-Gaddafi forces.