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Gadhafi forces in control of oil?

Protesters hold old national flags as they shout slogans against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi near the port of Benghazi, Libya along the Mediterranean coast on March 6, 2011. Loyal and rebel forces continue to battle for control of the country. UPI/Mohamaad Hosam
Protesters hold old national flags as they shout slogans against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi near the port of Benghazi, Libya along the Mediterranean coast on March 6, 2011. Loyal and rebel forces continue to battle for control of the country. UPI/Mohamaad Hosam | License Photo

TRIPOLI, Libya, March 14 (UPI) -- Rebel forces lost ground to fighters loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the oil port city of Brega, state television announced.

Libya's state-run television said Brega was "cleansed of armed gangs" during the weekend.

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GALLERY: The revolt in Libya

Rebel fighters are struggling to gain ground against well-equipped pro-Gadhafi forces. Opposition forces took up arms against the Libyan dictator last month and the regime's reaction is pushing the country toward civil war.

In a show of apparent strength, Tripoli during the weekend called on foreign companies to restart oil exports, Voice of America reports.

The International Energy Agency estimates that most of Libya's oil production is shut because of the unrest. Most energy companies in the country withdrew staff members when the situation turned violent in February.

The situation helped push oil and gasoline prices to two-year highs as oil-rich countries scrambled to fill the shortfall from Libya.

A magnitude 8.9 earthquake Friday in Japan caused the country to shut down most of its nuclear energy facilities, meaning Tokyo could start importing more crude oil and natural gas to make up for the lack of energy.

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