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Libya Rebel Oil Production Unlikely to Resume Soon

Source: Reuters 5/29/2011, Location: Africa

Libyan rebels' oil and finance minister said he did not expect oil production in the rebel-held east to restart in the near future.

Libyan rebels sold their first tanker full of crude to U.S. refiner Tesoro in April, but production has since ground to a halt due to concerns over the security of the oil fields.Tesoro's purchase of the cargo marked the first transaction involving Libya's eastern rebels -- fighting with NATO's backing to topple Muammar Gaddafi -- and a major foreign commercial user of oil.

"As soon as I'm confident that there's a minimum level of security, we'll resume production again but I don't think that will happen in the next two to three weeks -- it will take some time," Ali Tarhouni told reporters in Benghazi.Asked for more details on when he expected production to start up again he said: "I really don't have a time frame. I'm hoping soon, but I can't tell when."

Rebels have accused forces loyal to Gaddafi of targeting oil installations in the east of the country to halt production and deprive the rebels of oil export revenue.Crude oil reserves have now dwindled to less than one-half million barrels, Tarhouni said.Libya was producing around 1.6 million barrels per day of oil and exporting some 1.3 million bpd before the unrest.

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