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Friday, April 8, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Gadhafi forces cripple opposition's oil production

CAIRO — Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi has torpedoed crude oil production by the rebel movement.


Rebels acknowledged that attacks by Gadhafi's military have halted production in oil fields in eastern Libya. They said the oil output marked a leading source of revenue for the continuation of the war against the Gadhafi regime.

"This is our wealth and we have to protect it," Libyan rebel spokesman Abdul Hafz Ghoga said.

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The suspension of eastern oil production highlighted Gadhafi's dominance in his war against the rebels. Despite the NATO no-fly zone, Gadhafi's military and security forces, estimated to number more than 20,000, have sustained attacks on such rebel-held oil fields as Messla and Sarir, part of the Sirte Basin.

In March, the rebels reached an agreement to sell crude oil from the Libyan terminal at Tobruk to foreign clients. Qatar was said to have agreed to facilitate the rebel effort based on production of 100,000 barrels per day.

The rebel's remaining oil asset was identified as the storage facility in Tobruk. The terminal was said to contain one million barrels, with exports coordinated by Qatar.

"I don't think we will depend on oil revenues in the next stage because our production has been affected in this crisis," Ghoga said.

NATO has failed to protect the rebel movement amid the Gadhafi offensive. The alliance's no-fly zone mission has been hampered by a shortage of combat aircraft and fuel.

On April 7, at least five rebels were killed in a NATO air strike near the Libyan port of Brega. The air strike, which targeted a rebel main battle tank column, marked the second time in less than a week that NATO aircraft bombed anti-Gadhafi forces.

"NATO is looking into the specific details of an alleged strike on a column of tanks outside of Brega today," NATO said. "The fighting between Brega and Ajdabiya, where the strike occurred, has been fierce for several days. The situation is unclear and fluid with mechanized weapons travelling in all directions."

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