, BENGHAZI, May 3 – The Libyan rebels controlling the east of the country said Tuesday they had no plans to resume significant oil exports as their current priority was to ensure oil installations were made secure.
"I\’m waiting for an assessment on all of the oil installations (in rebel-held territory)," said Ali Tarhoni, who holds the economy and oil portfolio in the rebel administration.
"The top priority is to protect the installations, not to produce," he told reporters in the rebel capital Benghazi.
Libya, a key crude-exporting nation that was producing some 1.7 million barrels a day (bpd) before an uprising against strongman Moamer Kadhafi broke out in mid-February, has seen its output slashed since the revolt began.
According to the International Energy Agency, Libya\’s exports averaged 1.49 million bpd before the uprising, with 85 percent of that going to Europe.
The European Union last month added to its Libya sanctions list 26 energy firms accused of financing Kadhafi\’s regime, a move that Germany said amounted to a de facto oil and gas embargo.
Italy is set to host a meeting Thursday of the international contact group on Libya which will also discuss ways of helping oil sales from rebel-held eastern Libya to aid the uprising against Kadhafi.
A small number of export shipments have been made from rebel-held territory, delivered to market through Qatar Petroleum in an exemption to the sanctions.