msnbc.com news services
updated 3/6/2011 12:55:37 AM ET 2011-03-06T05:55:37

Heavy automatic weapons fire erupted in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Sunday, the first such outbreak in Muammar Gaddafi's main stronghold in a two-week-old insurrection against his 41-year-old rule.

It was unclear who was doing the shooting, which started at 5:45 a.m., just before daybreak, or what had caused it. Machine gun volleys, some of them heavy caliber, were reverberating around central Tripoli, along with ambulance sirens, pro-Gaddafi chants, whistling and a cacophony of car horns as vehicles sped through the vicinity.

A government spokesman denied any fighting was under way in Tripoli. "I assure you, I assure you, I assure you, I assure you, there is no fighting going on in Tripoli," said Mussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman.

"Everything is safe. Tripoli is 100 percent under control. What you are hearing is celebratory fireworks. People are in the streets, dancing in the square." He warned, however: "I would like to advise not to go there for your safety.

A government spokesman, Abdel-Majid al-Dursi, told the AP that the gunfire was celebratory, claiming that government forces had retaken the oil port of Ras Lanouf, in central Libya. But residents of Ras Lanouf said Sunday that the opposition remained in control of the port.

Tripoli is the main stronghold of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who said in a French newspaper interview released on Sunday that he was embroiled in a fight against terrorism and expressed dismay at the absence of support from abroad.

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"I am surprised that nobody understands that this is a fight against terrorism," the longtime autocrat of the North African oil-producing state told the Journal du Dimanche in excerpts of an interview due to be published later on Sunday.

"Our security services cooperate. We have helped you a lot these past few years. So why is it that when we are in a fight against terrorism here in Libya no one helps us in return?"

Story: Libyan rebels capture British soldiers

Gadhafi, who has ruled Africa's fourth largest country since a 1969 coup, faces an unprecedented popular uprising that has seen rebel forces assert control over Libya's east and loosen his grip in the west near the capital Tripoli.

Western leaders have denounced what they say has been Gadhafi's brutal, bloody response to the uprising, and the International Criminal Court said he and his inner circle could be investigated for alleged crimes committed against civilians by his security forces.

Gadhafi, who spoke to journalists from his headquarters in Tripoli, said Islamic holy war would engulf the Mediterranean if the insurrection in Libya, inspired by successful pro-democracy uprisings in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, succeeded.

"There would be Islamic jihad in front of you, in the Mediterranean," he said. "Bin Laden's people would come to impose ransoms on land and sea. We will go back to the time of Red Beard, of pirates, of Ottomans imposing ransoms on boats."

Interactive: Libya uprising: The latest (on this page)

Gadhafi added that his government was "doing well" despite the armed turmoil and warned Europe against an influx of Libyan migrants to its shores if his foes drove him from power.

Rebels advance on Gadhafi's hometown
Libyan rebels were advancing from the east on Gadhafi's hometown Sirte and clung to positions in a western town near the capital Tripoli after withstanding two armored assaults by government forces.

Calm settled back over the western town of Zawiyah after nightfall, with rifle-toting insurgents on rooftops and manning checkpoints on streets leading into the center. But the rebels said they were bracing for another tank and artillery attack by government on Sunday.

A doctor in Zawiyah, some 30 miles west of Tripoli, said at least 30 people, mostly civilians, were killed during fighting on Saturday that wrecked the town center, raising to at least 60 the death toll from two days of battles.

Almost 400 miles to the east along Libya's Mediterranean coast, insurgents said they took the town of Bin Jawad, on the heels of seizing the oil port of Ras Lanuf, and were thrusting westwards toward Sirte 100 miles away.

"We're going to attack Sirte, now," rebel fighter Mohamed Salim told Reuters, while another fighter, Mohamed Fathi, said: "Listen, we have no organization and no military plan. We go where we're needed."

Story: Serbia, arms dealer to Libya, silent on rebellion

"If (rebels) can expand down into the Gulf of Sirte ... they've got a very good shot at independence at the least — or maybe even overturning him at the most," said Peter Zeihan, analyst with the U.S.-based Stratfor intelligence newsletter.

But others were wary of the limitations of an undisciplined rebel force made up of soldiers who have bolted from Gadhafi's ranks and volunteers who have more enthusiasm than experience.

Where many eastern towns have fallen with scant resistance, Sirte is unlikely to be a pushover. It has long received hefty subsidies from Gadhafi, who liked to host Arab and other international conferences in the coastal city.

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Sirte also hosts a major air base and significant military forces loyal to Gadhafi.

British forces seized
Britain's Sunday Times reported that rebels had seized a British SAS special forces unit of up to eight soldiers escorting a junior diplomat in eastern Libya on a secret diplomatic mission to make contact with opposition leaders.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Solidarity group, which employs a number of Libyan exiles, told Reuters by telephone that a team of "eight special forces personnel" had been seized by rebels. Both the Ministry of Defense and Foreign Office repeatedly declined to comment on the group's report.

The SAS intervention apparently angered opposition figures fear Gadhafi could use any evidence of Western military intervention to sway patriotic support away from the uprising, according to the London paper.

Citing Libyan sources, the Sunday Times said the special forces troops were taken by rebels to Benghazi, Libya's second largest city and epicenter of the insurrection, and hauled before one of its most senior politicians for questioning.

Committee named
In Benghazi, eastern heartland of the insurrection, the opposition National Libyan Council said it had named a three-member crisis committee, including a head of military affairs and foreign affairs. Its head told Al Jazeera television it expected to be formally recognized soon by some countries.

In Tripoli, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told reporters Zawiyah was "quiet and peaceful" late on Saturday. "We hope by tomorrow morning life will be back to normal."

In Zawiyah, whose takeover by rebels earlier last week shook the Libyan leader because Libya's west has traditionally been Gaddafi's basis of popular support, residents said sporadic clashes after dusk abated by late evening.

But the atmosphere was tense with the situation seeming fluid and the rebels were on alert for a fresh barrage.

Abu Akeel, a Zawiyah resident, told Reuters government forces had shelled houses and fired on a mosque where people were taking shelter. Another resident said he saw more than 20 tanks advance across the main square during the second assault.

In Bin Jawad, rebels played the pre-Gaddafi monarchist national anthem over a loudspeaker. Government fighter jets and a helicopter circled overhead but did not open fire.

U.S. airlifts Egyptians home
Four U.S. military aircraft flew 312 Egyptians home Saturday after they fled to the Tunisia-Libya.

Two Marine Corps KC-130s and two Air Force C-130s supported the effort, said the Pentagon.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Gadhafi under increasing local, world pressure

  1. Transcript of: Gadhafi under increasing local, world pressure

    ANN CURRY, anchor: And in the news this morning, rebels in East Libya are holding onto their positions despite more airstrikes overnight from Moammar Gadhafi 's government. And President Obama has delivered his strongest condemnation of Gadhafi 's regime so far, saying the embattled leader must leave now and that the US is positioning forces near Libya should US intervention become necessary. NBC 's chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel is in Tripoli this morning with more on this. Hey, Richard , good morning.

    RICHARD ENGEL reporting: Good morning, Ann. Witnesses tell us there are now clashes under way on the outskirts of Tripoli , but the government remains in control of Tripoli itself. It also restricts the movements of foreign journalists here and clearly does not want the world to see the violence. As journalists in Tripoli gathered to leave our hotel this morning, the order

    came: no coverage of anti-government demonstrations, not today.

    Unidentified Man: Our image abroad is already bad because of unprofessional media reporting. One extra day will not harm us.

    ENGEL: The official told reporters protesters he called terrorists want to kill Libyan police, use car bombs and turn Tripoli into Baghdad . 'Our presence,' he said, 'would only encourage them.' Libya doesn't want a repeat of last Friday when protesters dared to gather in Tripoli and were gunned down, causing a still unknown number of deaths and injuries. Since then Tripoli has been showing a very different image, a city that's open with markets thriving and the only people out are Gadhafi supporters. Today the government doesn't want journalists to distort that image with the truth. Tensions just below the surface and a violent crackdown away from the cameras. Moammar Gadhafi has already lost control of eastern Libya . His forces have launched multiple airstrikes near Benghazi . But so far they've been unable to dislodge anti- Gadhafi rebels. The rebels have also been growing their ranks, recruiting and training volunteers determined to topple Gadhafi and make this revolt so big the government can no longer try to hide it. The government is now tightening its grip on Tripoli , Gadhafi 's biggest remaining stronghold, and has set up checkpoints across the city. Ann :

    CURRY: All right, Richard Engel , this morning. Richard , thank you for your reporting.

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

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  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: A photo said to show people gathering during recent days' unrest in Benghazi, Libya. The content, date and location of the image could not be independently verified.
    AP
    Above: Slideshow (81) Conflict in Libya
  2. Image: TO GO WITH AFP PACKAGE ON THE 40TH ANNIV
    AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (34) Moammar Gadhafi through the years

Timeline: Recent Middle East unrest

Explainer: Overview of Libya's oil resources

  • Image: A Libyan oil worker, works at a refinery inside the Brega oil complex
    AP

    OPEC member Libya is the 17th largest producer in the world, third largest producer in Africa and holds the continent's largest crude oil reserves. It normally pumps around 1.6 million bpd, 85 percent of which is exported to Europe and its output is equivalent to about 2 percent of global oil consumption.

  • Libya's place in the oil producing world

    How the country measures up in crude supplies and production.

  • Exports

    Before the war, Libya was a net exporter with domestic consumption estimated at only around 270,000 bpd.

    Europe was most affected by Libyan oil export disruptions. About 28 percent of Libya's oil went to Italy, 10 percent to Germany, 11 percent to China and France and 3 percent to the United States.

    Libyan oil accounted for about 23 percent of Ireland's oil and about 22 percent of Italy's, according to the IEA.

    Around 13 percent went east of the Suez Canal to Asia.

    The shortfall from the loss of Libyan output was covered by alternative sources such as Nigeria and Azerbaijan, which produce similar light crude oils to Libyan oil.

    Saudi Arabia also brought some it its spare capacity online, according to Saudi sources. The kingdom promised to fill any supply gap caused by the unrest in Libya although it produces heavier crude with higher sulfur content than Libya.

  • Infrastructure

    Reuters

    Oil fields
    Most of Libya's oil fields are located in and around the Sirte Basin, in the northeastern part of the country, which contains around 80 percent of the country's proven reserves.

    Other key areas include the Ghadames Basin, about 240 miles south of Tripoli and Cyrenaica Basin in the northeast and the Murzuq oil field in the desert in the south of the country.

    Libya has five domestic refineries with a combined capacity of 378,000 barrels a day:

    Azzawiya Oil Refining Co
    Sarir Refining
    Sirte Oil Co
    Tobruk Refining
    Ras Lanuf Oil & Gas Processing Co

    Ports
    Libya exported various grades of light crude from six major terminals, five of which are located in the eastern part of the country, where protests erupted near the second city of Benghazi.

    Following are the eastern terminals with pre-war loading volumes in January, 2011 provided by the IEA.

    Es Sider 447,000 barrels per day
    Marsa El Brega 51,000 bpd
    Ras Lanuf 195,000 bpd
    Tobruk 51,000 bpd
    Zueitina 214,000 bpd
    Zawiyah 199,000 bpd (January exports)
    Oother unspecified terminals 333,000 bpd

  • Companies

    Image: Libyan oil worker, works at a refinery inside the Brega oil complex
    AP

    Libya's state company
    Under the Gaddafi regime, Libya’s oil industry was run by the state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC), which was responsible for managing exploration and production sharing agreements with international oil companies. Along with smaller subsidiary companies, the NOC accounted for around 50 percent of the country's oil output.

    Foreign players
    Major oil companies operating in Libya include:

    BP (Great Britain)
    ConocoPhillips (United States)
    Eni (Italy)
    ExxonMobil (United States)
    Hess Corp (United States)
    Marathon (United States)
    Occidental Petroleum (United States)
    OMV (Austria)
    Repsol (Spain)
    Shell (United States)
    Statoil (Norway)
    Wintershall, a unit of BASF (Germany)

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