Just as the mission to rescue Britons stranded in Libya, news emerged via Time magazine that Colonel Gaddafi has issued orders to sabotage the country's own oil infrastructure.

Britain has sent charter planes to Tripoli to start the process of bringing home those who are stick in the middle of the current crisis that now engulfs the country. It is also reported on Sky that HMS Cumberland has been despatched from Malta to the area to arrive tonight, although it is very unlikely she will actually dock anywhere in Libya.

William Hague the foreign secretary has said that the UK will send as many planes as necessary.

As a result of the potential disruption to oil supplies, Libya provides about 2% of the world's consumption, US oil futures have reached two and a half year highs. At least three oil companies have stopped production in Libya already.

Now though sources close to Gaddafi have told to Robert Baer of Time (www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2052961,00.html) that the Libyan president has ordered security forces to start demolishing oil facilities. According to the report they will 'start by blowing up several oil pipelines, cutting off flow to Mediterranean ports. The sabotage, according to the insider, is meant to serve as a message to Libya's rebellious tribes: It's either me or chaos'.

Robert Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer, does though put a rider on the report by saying that this source has been wrong before when he said that Gaddafi's hold on the country was too tight for it to ever fall like Tunisia had done to an uprising.

But now with waning support the fear is that he will wage some sort of scorched earth policy, Gaddafi reportedly said "I have the money and arms to fight for a long time".

Baer finishes with:

Pressed, my Libyan source acknowledged Gaddafi is a desperate, irrational man, and his threats to turn Libya into another Somalia at this point may be mostly bluffing. On the other hand, if Gaddafi in fact enjoys the loyalty of troops he thinks he has, he very well could take Libya to the brink of civil war, if not over.

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