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Libya's largest oil depot begins exports after a yearlong blockade by militiamen, workers

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CAIRO - Libya's largest export terminal begun loading a tanker Wednesday destined for Italy, its first shipment after a yearlong blockade over disputes between the central government, rebels and protesters, the country's oil corporation said.

The National Oil Corp. said on its website the tanker has been loading 600,000 barrels since early Wednesday. The central government had resolved a dispute last month with militias in the country's east that had caused exports from two of the country's oil ports to stop for almost a year.

Various disputes over oil between the weakened central government, rebels demanding a share and protesting workers demanding better pay had knocked the country's regular production of 1.6 million barrels of oil per day production down 80 per cent, hurting revenues and further weakening the government. Exports were halted as rebels took control of major ports.

Corporation spokesman Mohammed al-Harari said production is up to 560,000 barrel per day.

But new fighting between rival militias also is threatening the country. The acting oil minister has been dismissed amid raging fighting in the country's east, the oil-rich region of Libya. A new acting minister, also the head of the National Oil Corp. has been appointed, al-Harari said, without elaborating.

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