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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Gadhafi destroying oil installations? UPDATED

Two weeks ago, I reported a story that Gadhafi loyalists were planning to destroy Libya's oil fields and refineries.

Now, we have evidence that it might be happening.
Three plumes of black smoke rose in an area around Es Sider oil terminal in east Libya on Wednesday after Muammar Gaddafi's forces launched a heavy bombardment on rebel troops, a Reuters correspondent said.

Correspondent Mohammed Abbas said it was not immediately clear if the oil terminal itself was hit but he said one of the smoke columns "was the biggest plume of smoke I've seen in the conflict so far, and is not dissipating."


More here.

I don't have the sense from reading the story that Gadhafi is destroying oil facilities as part of a scorched earth tactic. At least not yet. We saw that from Saddam Hussein during Gulf War I and eventually the US and its allies took measures to put the fires out - as much to protect the environment as to save the oil. But that required defeating Saddam first and so far no one outside Libya seems to have the stomach for taking on Gadhafi.

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