Qatar offers to market Libyan rebel oil

Qatar Petroleum offers to market oil from Libya's southeastern region

Qatar Petroleum has offered to market oil from rebel-held territory in Libya. (GETTY)
Qatar Petroleum has offered to market oil from rebel-held territory in Libya. (GETTY)

Libyan rebels are said to have reached a deal with Qatar to sell Libyan oil produced from the southeast of the country to help meet demand for basics such as food, fuel, medicine, according to a senior rebel official quoted by Bloomberg.

“The Qatari government has agreed to market Libyan oil for us and there will be an account into which the revenues are deposited,” Ali Tarhuni, who is in charge of oil, finance and economics for the interim national council, said in a televised news conference from Benghazi on Friday, according to the news wire.

The agreement with Qatar Petroleum (QP) to market the Libyan oil from rebel-held territories excludes the areas of Brega and the oil exporting region of Ras Lanuf, said Tarhuni without providing any further details.

Speaking at the same conference, rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil called on pro-Gaddafi forces to withdraw from cities and their surrounding areas as part of an overall cease-fire. The call came after air support from namely the US had to be withdrawn due to bad weather, allowing government loyalists to push the rebels back.

Speaking anonymously on Qatar assisting with the effort, a QP official told Reuters: "The decision was just a political move and not something that we can do so easily or really fast because the ports are still in bad shape and no insurance company will be able to cover ships going there."

"This was just a gesture to show that we support the rebels and if the situation gets better we might not even do anything and Libya would be able to handle things", the source added further.

According to IHS senior Middle East analyst Samuel Ciszuk, the QP statement underlines that if marketing help in the end was needed, one option for QP could be to buy the oil from the rebels and resell it to traders, or just to help get the crude loaded and delivered to buyers.

However Qatar’s well-intentioned move could be hindered by logistical constraints at Libya’s ports which are known to have been targeted by pro-Gaddafi forces. In addition to this, payment restrictions particularly in US dollars will further add to the challenge of the rebels’ earning potential. More importantly it is not known how payments can be made and exactly who the beneficiaries will be.

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