Continuing clashes between the Libyan National Army and rival militant groups have cut Libya’s oil production by 240,000 bpd, prompting the shutdown of Libya’s two biggest oil ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. Reuters quotes sources from the military as saying the LNA had pulled out of both ports, which is bad news for the security of exports.
The National Oil Corporation has evacuated its personnel from the ports and has said that the production loss could reach 400,000 bpd if the ports remained shut down. In May, Ras Lanuf exported 110,000 bpd on average, with shipments leaving from Es Sider at 300,000 bpd. Oil fields have not yet been affected, but the closure of the two ports is enough to wreak havoc on Libya’s oil industry.
While military sources have said the clashes were between the LNA and the Benghazi Defense Brigades—an Islamist group that the LNA drove out of Benghazi—NOC blames for the attack a commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, Ibrahim Jathran.
Jathran, Reuters reports, appeared on social media yesterday to announce the start of a military campaign against the LNA.
“We announce the preparation of our ground forces and supporting forces in the oil region, and our objective is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he was quoted as saying. “The past two years have been catastrophic for people in the oil crescent because of the presence of the system of injustice which is the other face of terrorism and extremism.”
Jathran’s PFG held all four ports in the Oil Crescent under a blockade for two years before the LNA wrested control from it in late 2016 and handed it over to the NOC. According to the company, the blockade had cost Libya billions of dollars in lost oil export revenues. Jathran is wanted by the Tripoli authorities for the blockade.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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