General Khalifa Haftar has announced “the decisive battle and the advance on the heart of Tripoli,” after eight months of trying to take over the seat of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord with his eastern-affiliated militia the Libyan National Army.
The LNA’s offensive against Tripoli began this spring and it came as a shock to many after Haftar had been working with the GNA-affiliated National Oil Corporation for a couple of years after the LNA freed Libya’s oil exporting terminals from the Petroleum Facilities Guard that was stopping any exports of the commodity, which is vital for Libya.
According to Haftar, the GNA is supported by “terrorist groups”, the AFP reports.
Over the last eight months, the fighting has continued without yielding a clear winner, but it has affected the oil industry as fields are the natural target for various groups supporting one or another side. Just last month, for example, forces loyal to the Government of National Accord seized control of the El Feel field, which produces about 73,000 bpd, from Haftar’s army.
A few days later, the National Oil Corporation declared a force majeure on El Feel after an illegal turn of a valve on the pipeline that carries crude from the field to the Mellitah terminal. There was no information about the party responsible for the force majeure.
At the time, NOC’s chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, once again reminded the warring factions that everyone in Libya needed the oil.
“I remind all parties that Libya’s oil and gas fields are vital sources of revenues for the benefit of all Libyans. They must not be treated as military targets. Any fighting in the vicinity of any of our facilities forces us to cease production, in order to ensure the safety of our employees. When production ceases, all Libyans lose out,” Sanalla said.
Meanwhile, as Haftar prepares for the final push, the Government of National Accord says it is prepared to push back.
“We are ready to push back any more mad attempt by the Haftar putsch leader,” the Interior Minister of the GNA said following Haftar’s announcement.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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