Libyan output falls as clashes force ports to shut

07 March, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Op-Ed Benghazi Defense Brigades attack oil ports in Libya

Amid the political chaos, however, thanks to the reopening of the export terminals Libya ramped up its crude oil production to 700,000 bpd as of January, eyeing a daily average of 1.1 million barrels by the end of the year. Opponents of the Libyan National Army had launched a number of unsuccessful attacks on the ports in East Libya.

The head of the National Oil Corporation, Mustafa Sanalla, told Reuters the number of workers at the two ports had been reduced and that the NOC and its partners were continuing to monitor the situation.

"The attackers were armed with modern tanks", LNA spokesperson Colonel Ahmad al-Mismari said.

The latest fighting, which is linked to a broader, stop-start conflict between political and military factions based in eastern and western Libya, threatens efforts to revive Libya's oil production.

Haftar does not recognize the legitimacy of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, and the capture of Es Sider by a third force complicates Libya's already-difficult security environment.

Haftar backs a rival administration in the country's far east that has refused to cede power to the Government of National Accord since it started working a year ago.

Haftar dominates a rival administration based in the east that continues to defy the GNA's authority.

Russian Federation has been trying to broker talks in Egypt between Haftar and the GNA that would see it reformed with a major role for the strongman but so far they have not borne fruit.

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His forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), have been battling Islamist and other militias in the area since forcing them out of much of the country's second city, Benghazi, in February 2016.

An array of forces, majority loyal to the UN-backed government in Tripoli, have been involved in efforts to oust Haftar from the oil ports.

The Brigades militia are allied with eastern tribes opposed to Haftar and members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard which controlled the oil ports before Haftar's takeover.

On Friday it released a statement saying it was not involved in the "military escalation" and had "not instructed any group" to try to retake the oil crescent.

Al-Zwei said that the militias advanced on four fronts, despite airstrikes waged by Hifter's air forces.

However, an officer on Haftar's staff told AFP that MiG-23 warplanes and Mi-35 attack helicopters bombarded a convoy of Benghazi Defence Brigades vehicles south of Nofliya.

The BDB is composed partly of fighters who were expelled from Benghazi by the LNA.

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