Kadhafi 'still boosted by millions of oil dollars'

LONDON (AFP) – Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime is still being boosted by millions of dollars of crude export revenues despite Western sanctions, the Financial Times reported Saturday.

The business newspaper, citing a senior Western oil official and traders, said that payments for oil exports were finding their way back to Libya's central bank, and possibly into Kadhafi's control.

In the last week of February, when the violence began, Libya exported about 570,000 barrels per day, and shipped about 400,000 barrels of oil over the past week, according to the FT.

The Libyan crude oil shipped over the past fortnight is worth about $770 million (550 million euros) at current price levels, the paper added.

Libya is the fourth largest oil producer in Africa and accounted for around 2.3 percent of global crude oil output before the crisis erupted.

The FT added that Libyan exports were now tailing off, but that Chinese and Indian firms have continued to buy the crude.

Before the weekend, New York crude oil prices spiked to a two-year high point above $104 per barrel on Friday, as traders watched heavy fighting in Libya, particularly in the east, which accounts for about two-thirds of the country's production.

In another blow, the Paris-based International Energy Agency estimated on Friday that Libyan production had fallen by one million barrels per day (mbpd) due to the crisis.

OPEC member Libya normally exports around 1.6 million barrels a day, 85 percent of which goes to Europe, according to the IEA, which represents the interests of industrialised oil-consuming nations.

"After the evacuation of Western oil production crews, Libyan output levels are difficult to ascertain, although our latest information suggests around 1.0 mbpd out of a prevailing 1.6 mbpd of crude production has been shuttered," the IEA said in a brief statement issued Friday.

"Libyan ports, which loaded 1.337 mbpd of crude in 2010, are operating at reduced rates because of poor weather at the end of February and ongoing unrest. It is estimated that 500,000-600,000 barrels of crude lifted from Libyan ports in the last week."

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