Libya: oil price surges as Gaddafi forces gain ground and storm key town

Monday, March 7, 2011
By Paul Martin

The conflict in Libya helped propel the price of oil towards $120 a barrel on Monday as forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi and rebels trying to overthrow his regime formed a front line around the strategic oil town of Ras Lanuf.

By James Kirkup, Praveen Swami and Adrian Blomfield in Benghazi
07 Mar 2011

Saudi Arabian political activists have also added to energy fears with calls for a day of protest this week.

Britain and France were leading diplomatic efforts to win support at the United Nations for a no-fly zone. These moves in part follow intense lobbying from the rebels. They have pressed Western oil firms to raise with their governments the spectre of losing costly infrastructure in the east of the country.

William Hague said the rebels had asked “explicitly” for action to prevent Col Gaddafi’s air strikes but that “many conditions should be attached” to a no-fly zone. “At the UN Security Council we are working closely with partners on a contingency basis on elements of a resolution on a no-fly zone, making clear the need for regional support, a clear trigger for such a resolution and an appropriate legal basis,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary also said David Cameron was aware of the mission in Libya by SAS soldiers and MI6 officers. The operation ended in failure over the weekend when the British force was held captive by Libyan opposition groups. A Whitehall blame game broke out yesterday with Downing Street saying that Mr Hague was responsible and No 10’s version of events causing anger in the Foreign Office.

In Libya, pro-regime forces made gains yesterday. Col Gaddafi’s jets attacked Ras Lanuf as forces advanced from the west. Many rebels fled into the desert as the advance appeared to gather momentum. Ras Lanuf and Brega to its east are important oil ports, as is Zawiya, the only town west of Tripoli, the capital, still in rebel hands. It appeared cut off by a government attack last night.

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