CAIRO, June 13 (UPI) -- Oil fields in Libya were "cannibalized" by war, making it nearly impossible for exports from the war-torn country to resume this year, a rebel leader said.
Several energy companies in European countries backing the Transitional National Council in Libya have reached deals with the opposition. The conflict in Libya has left 1.4 million barrels per day out of the energy market, however.
Nouri Burruien, the director of the rebel National Oil Co., told the Platts news service from Cairo that it could take "10 to 12 months" to have oil production back at pre-war levels.
"We are at war," he was quoted as saying. "Some of the (oil) fields were cannibalized, people were terrorized, and my people needed me."
Libyan rebels managed to get 1 million barrels of oil out of the country in early April. The country's de facto oil minister defected in late May and said later in Italy that he would support the rebel movement. Burruien said he didn't have any contact with the defected minister, however.
He added that Libya could start resuming oil exports once security is restored.
"Once security is restored and our workers are back, we should start exporting," he said. "Our workers are civilians, they are not fighting soldiers."