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The Libyan National Army lost 21 of its soldiers in the course of retaking the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil terminals from the Benghazi Defense Brigades, who took over them last week after several days of fighting.
According to a spokesman for the LNA, Ahmed al-Mismari, what BDB fighters remained after the latest battle had fled to the nearby cities of Jufra and Misrata, and the LNA was preparing for an offense on Jufra to oust the group, which is classed as a radical Islamist faction. No numbers were provided for the losses of the DBD.
The LNA announced the recapturing of the two ports yesterday, adding it was in pursuit of the fleeing DBD fighters.
Libya has lost 35,000 barrels per day since the latest clashes broke out in the beginning of March, putting production down to about 660,000 bpd. Before the fighting, Libya was producing around 700,000 barrels of oil daily, with plans to raise this to 1.1 million barrels by the end of the year.
Libyan media quoted ambassadors from Western Europe and the U.S. as expressing their concern with the state of affairs in Libya’s Oil Crescent, and calling for an end to the fighting to protect the country’s only abundant natural resource.
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Earlier this month, when the fights between the LNA and the BDB broke out, the same ambassadors – of France, the UK, and the U.S. – said that the oil facilities should remain exclusively in the hands of the National Oil Corporation. This suggests these countries are indirectly supporting the LNA, at least in some of its endeavors, such as the wresting of control over the oil terminals from the Petroleum Facilities Guard and transferring that control to NOC last September.
The PFG was affiliated with the UN-backed government, while the LNA is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, the Libyan parliament, which does not recognize the Government of National Accord – the lineup recognized by the international community.
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.