Video: Gadhafi strikes force rebels to regroup

  1. Closed captioning of: Gadhafi strikes force rebels to regroup

    >> this, of course, being driven by the events in the middle east and north africa . today moammar gadhafi 's forces intensified their counterattacks now, including a new assault on an oil port held by rebels. nbc's stephanie gosk went to that town today. she is back in benghazi tonight. stephanie , i know you were out in it today.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. we did get a look at it today. you know, for the last week some of the fiercest fighting has been happening in two towns with key oil facilities. images of heavily armed rebels guarding oil refineries are not going to help the jitters. on the front line of libya's civil war , it's not the gunfire that worries the rebels, it's the jet fighters . again today moammar gadhafi 's russian-made warplane attacked opposition forces in the oil town of ras lanuf. the bombs either missed their targets or were being used to instill fear. in the last 48 hours gadhafi has struck back with greater force and heavier fire power than ever before in this conflict, pushing rebels back and forcing them to regroup. fighters fled into staging areas like this one, looking for food, weapons, and some kind of direction. form units of ten, they're being told. make sure some in the group are armed. everyone is asked to write down their names. in the distance beyond the anti-aircraft guns, the ras lanuf oil refinery at a standstill because of the violence. this is the final staging ground before the front lines but these guys have their eyes on the sky as well. they have already been shelled this morning. the faintest sound of a plane overhead, the anti-aircraft guns fire wildly. this turned out to be a false alarm. rebel forces relying on the eastern city of benghazi for supplies say they will push all the way to tripoli, even through gadhafi 's hometownf surt. but their steady push west came to a sudden halt on sunday when gadhafi 's forces showed some of their true strength. many believe the libyan leader has been holding back an even more violent counterattack because he fears foreign military intervention. while his son warns of a nightmare scenario if the gadhafi regime falls.

    >> libya may become the somalia of north africa , of the mediterranean. you'll see millions of illegal immigrants. the terror will be next to your door.

    >> reporter: in ras lanuf, the rebels are undeterred, even though outgunned. wi or without the world's help they say they won't stop fighting until gadhafi is gone. the u.s. aassador said they are discussing a no-fly zone but downplard the importance of gadhafi 's air power saying up to this point it has not been the deciding factor in the unrest, brian.

    >> stephanie gosk reporting on the combat there today. stephanie , thanks.

msnbc.com news services
updated 3/7/2011 7:40:20 PM ET 2011-03-08T00:40:20

Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi pounded opposition fighters with airstrikes, artillery and rockets Monday in a battle for control of the key eastern oil port of Ras Lanuf — a bid to stop the rebels' rapid advance toward the capital.

In Ras Lanuf, a warplane launched an airstrike on a car carrying a family and may have killed one or more of them, witnesses said.

Several witnesses said one man, possibly the father or grandfather, had died. Others said two children were badly wounded and one of those said two children died. It was not immediately possible to confirm any of the deaths.

Another airstrike, one of a series on the town on Monday, hit again shortly after the family car was struck. It sent a plume of smoke into the air and rebel fighters fired at a warplane overhead shouting, "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).

Fighting was also renewed in the western city of Zawiya with tanks and artillery, Al-Jazeera reported.

Meanwhile, both Al-Jazeera and an Arab newspaper reported on Monday that Gadhafi had proposed to rebels a meeting with the country's parliament to pave the way for the leader to step down with certain guarantees. Both news outlets cited unnamed sources for the report.

Video: Gadhafi strikes force rebels to regroup (on this page)

Sources later told Al-Jazeera that the rebel interim council rejected the offer because it would have amounted to an "honourable" exit for Gadhafi and would offend his victims.

According to the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper website, Gadhafi was seeking assurances for his safety, that of his family, and his wealth. In addition, the sources said Gadhafi sought assistance in leaving the country and guarantees he would not be pursued internally or abroad, or brought to face international courts.

The largely inexperienced rebels lack their enemy's firepower and are in need of reinforcements from the east, Mohamad Samir, an army colonel fighting with the rebels, told The Associated Press. The rebels have no warplanes and rely mostly on heavy machineguns, anti-aircraft weapons and rocket propelled grenades. They travel by 4x4 pick-up trucks.

But their agility, often fairly chaotic at the front, has given them a degree of protection from Gadhafi's forces, who have proved more effective at quashing the rebellion in the west around the Libyan leader's Tripoli powerbase.

"The West needs to move or this crazy guy (Gadhafi) will do something to the oilfields. He is like a wounded wolf," Mustafa Gheriani, a media officer for the rebels in Benghazi, said, referring to rebel appeals for a no-fly zone. "If the West does not intervene with tactical air strikes he could put the oilfields out of commission for a long time."

The U.S. and its NATO allies are considering a military response to the violence in Libya, President Obama said Monday. Britain and France are drawing up elements of a UN resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya in the event that world leaders decided it was necessary. Defense Secretary Robert Gates cautioned that any foreign military intervention would require international backing.

Also on Monday, the United Arab Emirates called for the U.N. Security Council to act to "protect" the Libyan people.

Rebels 'have no experience'
On an ill-defined and fast-moving front line, rebels braced for another attack on Ras Lanuf despite signs that Gadhafi's forces were reinforcing defenses.

Rebel raiding parties staged hit-and-run attacks to test the strength of their foes, who fired mortar rounds back.

A Libyan warplane screeched over the rebels in Ras Lanuf, sending them into a frenzy of firing at it. Looking on, one resident said: "I believe these youths are ready to die, but they won't make a difference. Look at the way they're firing at the plane. They have no experience."

A Reuters witness saw no more than 200 or so rebels in Ras Lanuf but it was not clear how many more were in the immediate surrounding area.

Rebels at checkpoints were more nervous than on previous days, saying families were fleeing Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad to escape fighting.

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"We are leaving simply because it will be safer," said the head of one family in a car stuffed with household belongings.

The rebels have proved ineffective in defending their gains, as seen in the hasty withdrawal from Bin Jawad after they had overrun the town.

"Many of the rebels are young, and they're just not used to war. That's why they ran back," rebel Ibrahim Zwei told Reuters.

The rebels had been buoyed by three straight victories over government forces as they moved west. They made their biggest gains without much of a fight shortly after protests erupted in mid-February, but their mettle has been tested the further they moved west.

Difficult days ahead
Rebels have been relying on the residents of government-held towns to rise up and join them, but this is likely to become harder as they move west into more affluent areas that have benefited from Gadhafi's rule.

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

Gadhafi has poured cash into Sirte, about 100 miles from Bin Jawad, and the city is expected to prove a formidable battleground. The Libyan leader, who was born nearby, has used the city for international conferences and to host VIP visitors.

Rebels have been careful to accuse mostly foreign mercenaries of fighting for Gadhafi, and are keen to highlight national unity and support for their cause.  But many fighters, mostly youths in jeans and sneakers, said they were betrayed.

"We got calls from the people of Bin Jawad telling us to come through and that all was well. Then we were ambushed," said Hani Zwei. "I can't believe our own countrymen would do that."

Residents of Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city where the uprising started, said the euphoria of driving out Gadhafi's forces had started to wear off.

"After parties and celebrations, the people of Benghazi are now worrying about our people in the west," said Salah Ben-Saud, 75, a former undersecretary at the agricultureg ministry.

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Young people in Internet cafes were telling each other to be brave as there was no sign the government forces were giving up. "There is a fear he will retake the east," said the correspondent in the city.

'Somalia of N. Africa?'
The recent fighting appeared to signal the start of a new phase in the conflict, with Gadhafi's regime unleashing its air power on the rebel force trying to oust the ruler of 41 years. The uprising against Gadhafi, which began Feb. 15, is already longer and much bloodier than the relatively quick revolts that overthrew the longtime authoritarian leaders of neighboring Egypt and Tunisia.

On Monday, Gadhafi and his son Saif Gadhafi suggested that Libya plays a vital role in keeping the Mediterranean secure and that it is an important partner for the West in battling al-Qaida.

"Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean," Saif Gadhafi told France24 in an interview. "You will see the pirates in Sicily, in Crete, in Lampedusa. You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next your door."

Gadhafi has consistently denied the scope of the revolt and the number of casualties in the weeks-old revolt.

“There have been at most 150 to 200 people killed," Gadhafi told France24. "People should come here and see how many people have been killed. They can come and check among the population, and among the police and the army.”

Tight restrictions on media make it near impossible to get an accurate tally of the dead and wounded which is estimated to reach into the hundreds if not thousands. More than 200,000 people have fled the country, most of them foreign workers. The exodus is creating a humanitarian crisis across the border with Tunisia — another North African country in turmoil after an uprising in January that ousted its longtime leader.

The United Nations said more than one million people who are fleeing Libya or inside the country need humanitarian aid.

The U.N.'s aid coordinator Valerie Amos said that her first priority was Misrata, a rebel-held town of 300,000 which residents said had been attacked at the weekend by government forces with tanks and missiles that cut insurgents to shreds.

"Humanitarian organizations need urgent access now," said Amos. "People are injured and dying and need help immediately."

The turmoil is being felt more broadly still in the form of rising oil prices . Libya's oil production has been seriously crippled by the unrest.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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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