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Kadhafi losing his grip on Libya's oil industry

Published on Tuesday 1st March 2011

Moamer Kadhafi's regime has lost control of the majority of Libya's oil and gas installations, the European Union's energy commissioner said on Monday.

Meanwhile China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), Libya's largest oil and gas producer, said it had stopped production in the country and evacuated all of its employees.

"There is reason to believe that the majority of the oil and gas fields are no longer under Kadhafi's control," Gunther Oettinger, the EU's energy commissioner, told a press conference.

Oettinger dismissed creating a blockade on oil exports from Libya. He said a blockade would "potentially be punishing the wrong people", referring to installations that are under control of groups opposed to Kadhafi.

CNPC announced in a statement that they had suspended production and sealed up their equipment. The state owned company, which has operated in Libya since 2002, had said last week that some of their sites had been attacked during the "recent security upheaval"..

Crude oil prices climbed in Asian trade on Monday. However US oil prices slipped after opening in New York. Prices remained above 97 dollars a barrel but assurances from Saudi Arabia that they would meet extra supply needs helped ease concerns over disruptions in Libya.

Hassan Hakimian, the director of the London Middle East Institute, told RFI there was a great deal of anxiety in the international oil markets after the political upheaval in the Arab world.

"Whereas developments in Egypt and Libya didn't make a huge impact on the price of oil, naturally for a very large producer and exporting country like Saudi Arabia, the slightest uncertainty regarding the stability of oil supplies can have a disproportionate impact on the market," he said.

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