6 Apr 2011

First oil shipment due from Libyan rebel areas

3:30 pm on 6 April 2011

The first export of oil from rebel-held areas of eastern Libya for almost three weeks is due to begin.

Opposition groups are making plans to load a tanker believed to have now docked at a terminal near Tobruk.

Lloyd's List, the shipping news and data provider, says that some 1 million barrels of oil are expected to be loaded on to the tanker - possibly bound for Qatar, the BBC reports.

The small Gulf state has recognised Libya's rebels as the country's legitimate government and has agreed to market oil from rebel areas.

The BBC reports that Libya is Africa's third largest oil producer, but exports have dried up since the uprising against leader Muammar Gaddafi uprising began some two months ago.

Libya had been exporting 1.6 million barrels a day.

Meanwhile, NATO air strikes have been reported against forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi as anti-government rebels gather near the eastern oil town of Brega.

On the ground on Tuesday, Nato jets bombed Libyan government vehicles near Brega, reports said, as small groups of rebels assembled on the outskirts of the city.

The air strikes destroyed two in a convoy of eight vehicles, forcing the others back into the centre of Brega, rebels said.