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Libyan rebels up oil protection

  |   Aug. 8, 2011 at 8:37 AM
BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Libyan rebel leaders said they approached Turkish officials to get military equipment needed to protect oil installations.

The rebel-backed Transitional National Council is looking to increase oil production from its facilities in Benghazi.

The rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Co. could produce around 440,000 barrels of oil per day from the war-torn region. Libya was one of Africa's top oil producers before the war, averaging about 1.6 million barrels a day.

A rebel official who spoke with the Financial Times on condition of anonymity said there would be a security force in place to protect oil installations.

"Whenever the (natural gas) flares go up, they attack (us)," he said of forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. "But security will be in place soon, so we will see."

Rebels have received some cash from oil deliveries shipped since April. Rebel leaders said they've asked Turkey for up to $6 million to help pay for equipment like night-vision goggles for security operations, the newspaper adds.

Ali Tarhouni, the TNC oil and finance minister, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying that Western military contractors had approached AGOCO in the past but he said there was "no future for them in Libya."

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