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Gadhafi forces stymie rebel movement
Western officials have said a no-fly zone does not require a U.N. mandate, but they would prefer to have one.
An official with a subsidiary of Libya’s national oil company said Tuesday that production has dropped by about 90 percent, a reflection of the beating the OPEC member’s oil sector is taking amid violence raging in the country.
Sirte Oil Co. is producing about 9,500 barrels per day, compared to normal production levels at about 95,000 barrels per day, said company official Ahmed Jerski.
Analysts estimate that more than half of Libya’s almost 1.6 million barrels per day in production is being shut-in, and the disruption in exports has sent global oil prices skyrocketing.
The U.S. benchmark crude contract for April delivery was hovering slightly below $104 per barrel on Tuesday, retreating from highs of almost $107 per barrel a day earlier. The drop came as several OPEC ministers said they were talking informally about whether to ramp up production to offset the Libya supply drop.
The upheaval has also sparked a massive exodus by foreign workers in Libya fleeing the violence. As of Tuesday, 224,661 migrants had reached Libya’s borders with Tunisia, Egypt, Niger and Algeria since February 20, according to the latest International Organization for Migration figures provided Tuesday to AP.
But a Red Crescent official said Tuesday that soldiers loyal to Gadhafi have blocked some 30,000 migrant workers from fleeing into Tunisia and forced many to return to work in Tripoli.
Ibrahim Osman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told The Associated Press that the migrant workers were rounded up and held in Libyan immigration buildings near the Tunisian border last week.
Osman, who heads the agency’s assessment teams in northern Africa, said Gadhafi soldiers were forcibly returning many of the 30,000 Bangladeshis, Egyptians and sub-Saharan Africans nearing the Ras Ajdir border crossing. He said loyalists held a pro-government demonstration at the crossing and appear to have forcibly return the migrants to service jobs.
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