Libya oil industry crippled by armed blockade

Libya oil industry crippled by armed blockade
Sun Sep 8, 2013 08:22:53

Libya’s oil industry has been paralyzed by a blockade of its oil fields under the control of armed groups, making the North African country reduce its output to a tenth of normal levels.

“Oil production now stands at less than 100,000 barrels per day,” Saad Ben Shrada, a member of parliament's energy commission, said on Saturday.

Guards working with the oil industry have been on strike since July and imposed a blockade on oilfields and terminals. Later on, many armed militants and defected soldiers also joined the guards in their campaign against the government.

The Libyan government is importing fuel to keep power stations running and queues are growing at petrol stations across the country.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan has threatened to send troops to end the blockade.

However, the leader of militants blockading ports in Cyrenaica, which deal with the bulk of Libya's oil, said such an action would be a "declaration of war".

Ibrahim Ali Jathran, a commander of army soldiers who have defected to seize the terminals, said his troops would fight back against the government. "We will resist," he said.

Since the overthrow of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the Libyan government has been struggling to tackle the presence of armed militants, who fought against forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Libyans rose up against Gaddafi’s four-decade rule in February 2011 and deposed him in August 2011. He was slain on October 20 of the same year.

Benghazi was the birthplace of the 2011 uprising. It is largely governed by militias in the absence of unified Libyan security and military forces.

The former rebels refuse to lay down their arms, despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.


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