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Shots Fired As Protesters Fail To Stop Oil Tanker From Loading In Libya

Protesters on Thursday fired shots outside Libya’s Hariga port in a failed attempt to stop the loading of 1 million barrels of crude oil bound for the UK, in an incident that comes just one day after Libyan prime minister-designate Fathi Bashagha entered Tripoli in a failed attempt to assume control of the government from his rival.

According to Hariga port authorities in Tobruk, cited by Libya Update, protesters fired shots after being prevented from entering the port after the docking of a tanker scheduled to be loaded with 1 million barrels of oil. 

The tanker was not hit in the crossfire. No injuries were reported, and the tanker–the British Ridgebury–successfully departed the port on Thursday. 

Libya has been suffering from a loss of some 600,000 bpd of production and exports after protests led the National Oil Company (NOC) to declare force majeure on the Al-Sharara oilfield, the country’s largest, along with the El Feel oilfield and two key export terminals. 

Hariga port has continued to operate normally. 

Tensions rose on Wednesday when Bashagha entered Tripoli with his militia forces providing security, prompting an armed response from militias loyal to current interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who has refused to step down and hand over power to his parliament-backed rival. 

Bashagha retreated from Tripoli only hours after entering and said later on Wednesday that his new government would set up in Sirte, halfway between the powers in the east and the west. Sirte is also the gateway to the ‘Oil Crescent', and this move potentially represents a reminder by Bashagha that his militias control this region. 

The rivalry is between two legislative branches of government in Libya, the Tobruk-based parliament in the east, which has appointed Bashagha the new prime minister, and the high council of state in the west, which supports Dbeibah. The east controls much of Libya’s ‘Oil Crescent’ and the west controls the Central Bank in Tripoli. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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