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Continued fighting between the Libyan National Army and the Benghazi Defense Brigades may cause the declaration of force majeure at two oil export terminals, a board member of the National Oil Corporation, Jadallah Al-Okli, said, also confirming that the fighting had forced the shutdown of several oil fields, which shaved off 80,000 bpd from the country’s recovering production.
Clashes between the House of Representatives-affiliated LNA and the BDB, which has declared no affiliations, broke out earlier this month, focusing on two of the terminals, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, which the LNA took over last September, along with the other two main oil export points in the Oil Crescent, Zueitina, and Brega.
The LNA then handed control of the ports to the NOC, and exports of crude were resumed for the first time in about two years, during which the terminals were controlled by the Petroleum Facilities Guard—an armed group affiliated with the UN-backed Libyan government, which, used its control of the terminals to extract money from various authorities. Now, it seems that Ras Lanuf and Es Sider are back in the hands of the PFG.
The Benghazi Defense Brigades, which the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium lists as an Islamist group with ideology similar to that of Al Quaeda, was formed as opposition to Khalifa Haftar’s LNA and includes fighters from other groups that the LNA considers extremist, driving many of them out of Benghazi.
Before the latest clashes, Libya produced 700,000 barrels of oil daily, with plans to raise this to 1.1 million barrels by the end of the year.
Over the weekend, a new political angle was added to the story: a U.S. military official accused Moscow of supporting Khaftar in a bid to gain control over the country’s oil wealth. Russia’s support for the LNA became clear earlier, after the head of a private security firm, RSB-group, told Reuters it had deployed military contractors to Libya in a region controlled by the LNA.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.