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Fighting near Es Sider port escalated to the point that workers had be evacuated from the Libyan oil export station, according to reports emerging from the area.
The head of the oil workers’ union for the eastern portion of Libya told Bloomberg that the employees had been taken to Ras Lanuf as a precautionary measure.
Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) were defending against an attack by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) from the western city of Jufra, causing the evacuation, according to Saad Dinar, the union head.
The BDB – which is not affiliated with the United Nations-backed Tripoli government - had reached a distance of just 30 kilometers west of Es Sider by mid-day Friday, while Haftar and his men stopped 20 km to the east of the key oil facility.
A top official from the LNA confirmed that Haftar had protected Es Sider from a hostile takeover, but that clashes continued just seven kilometers away.
February data from Libya puts the North African country’s output at 700,000 barrels per day – double its output from a year ago. This puts pressure on the rest of the nations that are a part of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce output further to fight the global oil glut. Libya is exempt from the bloc’s November deal to limit production.
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Libya has managed to more than double its crude oil output from 300,000 bpd in September, thanks to the reopening of oil ports in the Oil Crescent, which include Es Sider. Control of the ports was wrestled from the Petroleum Facilities Guard by the LNA and handed to the NOC.
By the end of 2017, NOC has plans to bring daily production to 1.1 million barrels.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…