Oil firm Vitol has until now been the rebels' main trading partner and has regularly shipped cargoes of oil products, but the oil minister said last month they have had to request payment extensions. Qatar has also supplied fuel to the rebel government.
"It's not that the Vitol deal is insufficient -- this is free," said a Libyan oil industry source, working with the rebels. Other oil traders active in the Mediterranean told Reuters they were interested in supplying Libya but that banks were still blocking payments to the TNC due to sanctions. An oil ministry source said last week that the rebels were looking for an alternative supplier and that at least one other oil firm said it was in talks with them in an early sign that the Libyan oil trade may be picking up. Exact import requirements are unclear, but an industry source with knowledge of the Libyan market said they were around 50,000 tonnes a week. West Libya is also suffering from fuel shortages as international sanctions and NATO cargo interceptions have deterred traders from delivering via tankers. Instead, smugglers are importing fuels overland from Algeria and Tunisia.
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