Wounded Libyan soldiers, veterans of last year’s civil war in which Muammar Gaddafi and his regime were overthrown, have begun protesting outside Libya’s main oil refinery.
The 120,000 barrel a day Zawiya refinery is located about 30 miles outside Tripoli, and provides 40% of western Libya’s oil needs.
This is the second time this month that oil operations at the refinery have been closed due to protests. Earlier in November a similar protest managed to close the refinery for two days, disrupting fuel supplies in Tripoli.
Essam al-Muntasir, a spokesman for the Zawiya Oil Refining Company, said: “We are in a state of total shutdown ... the demonstrators are preventing employees from entering the refinery and fuel trucks are unable to leave.”
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“Many of the veterans want the government to send them abroad to receive treatment or they want to get more money from the government as compensation for their efforts.”
Deputy Oil Minister, Omar Shakmak, admitted that the shutdown at the refinery could lead to another fuel shortage in the capital. He explained that “we have enough fuel stored in Tripoli to last us 25 days but the problem is that protesters are not allowing trucks in or out of the fuel storage areas of the refinery.”
The new administration is still trying to impose order and authority over the country, vast parts of which are still divided and swarming with armed militia. The recent protests are causing a big headache as the new government relies heavily on oil for its revenues.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com