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Overflowing Oil Storage Tanks Raise Risk Of Accidents In Libya

Oil tanks full to the brink at Libya's oil export terminals are posing a risk to local communities and the facilities themselves, the chairman of the National Oil Corporation, Mustafa Sanalla, warned yesterday.

"The militarization of oil facilities, the presence of mercenaries as well as the military escalation increase the risks that hydrocarbons and chemicals stored at oil ports pose to workers and local population," Sanalla said. "This may lead to a disaster that is more severe than Beirut's port and a massive destruction that will cause Libya to be out of the oil market for so many years."

An oil terminal blockade by groups affiliated with the Libyan National Army led by controversial figure Khalifa Haftar has decimated Libya's oil production, from over 1 million bpd to about 100,000 bpd. However, the blockade also almost stopped exports, so most of whatever oil has been produced has been stored, increasing the risk of a devastating accident.

And it seems that stockpiling will continue this month: Bloomberg reported last week Libya's loading schedule suggested it would only ship some 1.2 million barrels in total this month, with 600,000 barrels leaving from each of two terminals still in operation.

Last week, NOC said that it "is deeply concerned about the continuing militarization of its oil facilities and the heavy presence of foreign mercenaries at various oil fields and ports in the east and south of the country."

The presence of mercenaries at the Ras Lanuf petrochemical complex, the Zueitina oil port, and the Zallah field "are a threat and may lead to the destruction of the Libyan people's sole source of revenue," the Libyan oil firm said.  

Now, Sanalla has pointed out that a blast at any of the terminals would cost hundreds of billions of dollars in "lost sales opportunities" as well as tens of billions for the reconstruction of the facilities after a hypothetical disaster.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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