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Libyan rebels gear up for oil shipment

BENGHAZI, Libya, July 27 (UPI) -- The rebel-backed Transitional National Council in Libya is gearing up to load 800,000 barrels of crude oil onto a tanker for shipment Monday, an official said.

Oil production in Libya is shuttered by conflict, prompting the International Energy Agency to call on its member states to release petroleum from strategic reserves to offset the shortage.

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Oil tanker Captain X Kyriakou arrived at the Zuetina oil terminal during the weekend to load crude oil stored at the port west of the rebel capital Benghazi. The tanker could leave port by Monday.

Mazin Ramadan, a TNC energy adviser, told the Platts news service the buyer was Vitol but declined to indicate the destination of the crude.

"The oil tanker should leave once the 800,000 barrels are lifted," he was quoted as saying. "The shipment is going to Vitol."

Libya's national oil company is under economic sanctions. The U.S. Treasury Department authorized sales from operators working on behalf of the rebel leadership in Libya, however.

A TNC official told the news agency on condition of anonymity that security was the main inhibitor of oil shipments from rebel-held oil fields.

"There is no damage to the oil facilities and fields and all the equipment and installations are ready for production. Our main problem is security," he said. "We can start pumping once security is guaranteed."

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