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The Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar is bombing positions of the Benghazi Defense Brigades, which tried to push the LNA out of two key oil export terminals in Libya. The air strikes, Reuters reports, were carried out yesterday, after the LNA lost ground to the BDB on Friday.
A source from the LNA said the BDB attack had been unsuccessful.
The two militias clashed last week, with the fighting on Friday escalated to an extent that necessitated the evacuation of workers at the port of Es Sider to another terminal, Ras Lanuf, which is not yet targeted by the BDB.
Besides the LNA air strikes, there is also fighting on the ground involving more armed groups, although it remained unclear which groups these are. Besides the BDB, which originated in Western Libya and is not affiliated with the UN-backed government, there is also the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which used to control all four oil terminals in the Oil Crescent, and which is affiliated with the government.
The LNA, which wrestled control of the ports from the PFG last September, is loyal to the Eastern Libya-based House of Representatives, which opposes the UN-backed government. After it took control of the ports, the LNA handed it over to the National Oil Corporation, allowing for exports of crude to resume.
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Since then, opponents such as the PFG and BNB have tried to push the LNA out—so far unsuccessfull—although one source from the port of Ras Lanuf said the terminal is currently controlled by the PFG.
The Benghazi Defense Brigades are partially made up of fighters from Benghazi, which were chased out of the city by Haftar’s LNA. The LNA considers this and other groups active in Western Libya extremists and has been fighting them for three years.
Amid the political chaos, however, thanks to the reopening of the export terminals Libya ramped up its crude oil production to 700,000 bpd as of January, eyeing a daily average of 1.1 million barrels by the end of the year.
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.