Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. planned to release $300 million of frozen Libyan assets today to Geneva-based oil trader Vitol Group for fuel provided to the rebels who ousted Muammar Qaddafi.
The funds were part of the $700 million that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Paris today were to be unfrozen, according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
A person familiar with the operation said Vitol bought two tankers of crude oil from the National Transitional Council, the rebels’ umbrella group, while providing about 20 tankers of refined product.
The person, who declined to be identified because the deal was private, said there remains a shortage of refined fuel in the country after months of turmoil. A tanker typically carries between 300,000 and 350,000 barrels of oil, the person said. Vitol trades over 5.5 million barrels of oil a day.
The U.K. government had set up a unit to coordinate economic sanctions against Qaddafi, ensuring he was starved of fuel while Libyan rebels were supplied, a British official said. The group tracked oil tankers to facilitate a blockade against Qaddafi, while encouraging Vitol to sell to the rebels.
The government unit was the brainchild of International Development Minister Alan Duncan, a former Vitol employee, according to the BBC, which earlier reported the U.K. operation.
Clinton was in Paris along with officials from 60 delegations attending a one-day meeting at the presidential Elysee Palace to discuss how to support the new leaders of Libya as they try to establish order and restore their economy.
--Editors: James Hertling, Leon Mangasarian
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