LNA Regains Control over Key Libya Oil Ports

LNA Regains Control over Key Libya Oil Ports

Thursday, 21 June, 2018 - 11:30
In this file photo taken on August 24, 2011, a supplies truck drives through the main road in the oil rich town of Ras Lanuf, some 150 kms East of Sirte. Gianluigi GUERCIA / AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
The Libyan National Army said on Thursday it had rapidly retaken the shuttered key oil export terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where the head of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said he hoped operations would resume in a "couple of days".

Staff were evacuated from the key terminals in Libya's eastern oil crescent and exports were suspended last Thursday when armed fighters led by Ibrahim Jathran attacked the ports and occupied them.

The closure has led to daily production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), and two oil storage tanks were destroyed or badly damaged by fires during the fighting.

For the past week, Khalifa Haftar's LNA has been pounding the area with air strikes as it mobilized to retake the ports, and it continued to target its rivals with air strikes on Thursday as they retreated.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said troops had retaken Es Sider by mid-morning and were clashing with opponents as they advanced west.

Mismari said Ras Lanuf, which includes a residential town, an air strip, storage tanks and a refinery, alongside the oil terminal, had also been taken by the LNA.

"The enemy suffered large losses in lives and equipment," he said.

Libya's national production was cut to between 600,000 and 700,000 bpd from more than one million bpd by clashes in the oil crescent, but NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said he was expecting a quick restart.

"Libyan production is very low but we are going to resume very soon," he told reporters in Vienna. "After a couple of days we will resume, we start our operations hopefully."

Also Thursday, Libya's coast guard said it has rescued some 80 African migrants, including four women and two children, and recovered one body in the Mediterranean Sea east of the capital, Tripoli.

Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said that the migrants were found on a damaged rubber boat and had remained at sea for around four hours before the coast guard arrived.

He said the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid, and were handed over to anti-migration authorities.

Libya has emerged as a major transit point to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war elsewhere in Africa. 

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