Security risks cloud Libyan energy sector

March 8, 2013 at 6:24 AM

TRIPOLI, Libya, March 8 (UPI) -- Despite a security team designated to protect Libya's energy wealth, a major attack on the sector would be a large setback for the country, an analyst said.

Libyan Deputy Defense Minister Khalid Sharif last week said clashes with militants led to security responsibilities at the Mellitah energy complex in western Libya given to a special energy security unit. The facility was shut down briefly as a security precaution.

Duncan Bullivant, the chief of British consulting firm Henderson Risk, told Bloomberg News a attack on the energy sector would be a setback for Libya.

"A major attack on a Libyan oil installation would have severe consequences, not just because the country depends so much on oil exports but because it would pull the rug out from foreign business confidence," he said.

Libya has recruited fighters to a state-run Petroleum Facility Guard, though the news service notes that force is poorly trained and under-equipped.

Libyan oil production had rebounded close to its pre-war level of around 1.6 million bpd but has since declined. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said that, as of Jan. 20, Libya was producing around 1.4 million bpd, down from a high of around 1.48 million bpd in November.

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