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Libya’s Oil Firm May Halt Zawiya Refinery Due To Insecurity

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) warned on Sunday that it could suspend operations at the Zawiya oil refinery if competent authorities fail to address recent security incidents at the 120,000-bpd refinery west of Tripoli.

The Zawiya refinery supplies western and southern Libya with fuel and the port at the refinery exports crude oil from Libya’s large Sharara oil field.

NOC’s board of directors have alerted the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) and competent authorities that protection and security at the refinery have been lacking recently, the company said in a statement, citing two incidents over the past two weeks.

The most serious incident was an attack on October 2 on employees at the refinery, NOC said, adding that one employee had been kidnapped and later released, and company cars and personal property had been stolen. Then a group of gunmen attacked the refinery on October 10, “attacking industrial security personnel in an attempt to break open the oil mixing facility for personal gain - stealing a company vehicle in the process,” NOC said.

“The NOC board warned that any continuation or failure to address this situation, to ensure staff and site protection and increase security, will affect ongoing operations and result in their suspension,” the Libyan state oil company said.

“This situation is not sustainable, either from a worker security or production standpoint. We expect the most basic principles of security to be upheld by those guarding NOC facilities, and call upon the relevant authorities to remedy this inadequacy immediately,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in the statement.

The latest incidents at Libyan oil facilities highlight the fragile state of the oil industry in the North African OPEC member, where attacks and blockades on oil facilities have frequently shut in oil production and exports.

Libya’s oil production was severely curtailed in June and July due to blockades on four ports, but output had recently recovered after the turbulent summer. Libyan oil production rose by 103,000 bpd from August to average 1.053 million bpd in September, as per OPEC secondary sources—the highest level since the middle of 2013, although still way off the 1.6-million-bpd production from before the civil war that began in 2011.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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