A tanker carrying crude oil has sailed from Benghazi, headed towards Sardinia, as Libya's rebels sell the last of their stockpile to raise urgently needed funds, industry sources and ship tracking data told the Reuters news agency late on Thursday.
Traders said the tanker, Captain X Kyriakou, was chartered by Swiss-based trading house Vitol earlier in July and had been seen this week off Marsa El Hariga near Tobruk and Benghazi in eastern Libya, the rebels' stronghold, according to a Reuters report.
The ship can carry up to 1 million barrels but was only partially loaded. The oil was from storage tanks rather than being fresh barrels from oilfields, the sources said.
"The cargo is the second export from the rebels and it may be the last before Libyan production restarts," one source told Reuters.
The IEA and Barclays Capital have released reports stating that it will be a matter of years - rather than months, as first hoped - before the Libyan rebels will be able to resume pre-conflict levels of oil production. While the extent to which the nation's oil infrastructure has been damaged remains unclear, production has fallen from 1.6 million bpd to under 100,00 bpd. "To expect a return to the prior status quo in Libya – either politically or in the context of the oil market, both in the short and the long term – would be incorrect," states the BarCap report.
While benefiting from th the UK's recognition of the rebel National Transitional Council, which has allowed millions of dollars in frozen assets to be released, the rebels have sustained a major blow with the killing of Gaddafi defector turned head of the rebel military Gen Abdel Fattah Younes.