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OPEC meeting to discuss unrest in Libya

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BOB MOON: When the OPEC oil cartel meets next week, it could agree to pump more oil. That would lower prices, and maybe help a struggling global economy. But the exclusive group of oil-producing nations won’t be meeting under normal circumstances. They’ll be dealing with civil unrest in many member states and introducing themselves to a new oil minister from Libya. The previous minister defected this week.

BBC reporter Wyre Davies joins us now from Tripoli. Good morning.

WYRE DAVIES: Good morning Bob.

MOON: The oil minister is just the latest defection amid the bombing campaign. Is the government’s oversight and management of the economy still functioning there?

DAVIES: Only just. I mean the loss of the oil minister is a huge blow to the Libyan regime. He was well respected in western circles and the Libyan regime will find it very difficult to replace him. And of course, there are no oil exports as we speak, not just on the government’s side but also on the rebel side so both sides in this conflict have been losing money hand over fist.

MOON: You say no oil is moving. Libya must be dependent on oil exports. Is the country collecting any money from that all?

DAVIES: Hardly any. The problem is that the oil fields are in the south of the country where there’s a lot of fighting going on. And neither side really is able to exercise control over those oil fields and get production back online. So the rebels aren’t able to buy any weapons, aren’t able to get money you know to pay salaries in rebel held areas. And here in government sector, equally the economy has ground to a halt. The lack of exports is really biting the economy on both fronts.

MOON: And no end in sight to this chaos over the Libyan oil reserves?

DAVIES: No and we’re into the fourth month of the conflict and it’s very difficult to see how Gaddafi can last out. But equally, it could take several months before I think we see the back of him. And therefore several months before oil exports will resume.

MOON: The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Tripoli. Thanks for joining us.

DAVIES: Thank you.

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