Fires from militant attacks put out at Libyan oil depots

Anti-government forces stormed eastern Libyan oil infrastructure in mid-June, sidelining about a quarter of the OPEC member's daily production.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  June 25, 2018 at 6:13 AM
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June 25 (UPI) -- A Libyan oil company announced that blazes at oil storage tanks at a depot in eastern Libya have been safely extinguished following mid-June militant attacks.

Anti-government forces loyal to militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran stormed oil infrastructure at the Sidra and Ras Lanuf terminals earlier this month. Two storage tanks at Ras Lanuf were left ablaze and the fires had threatened nearby infrastructure.

The Libyan National Oil Corp. said the damage was "catastrophic." Workers were evacuated from both terminals and the company declared force majeure on exports.

Force majeure is a contractual condition related to circumstances beyond the control of the parties involved. Libyan oil storage capacity declined from 950,000 barrels to 550,000 barrels as a result of the damage. The loss in oil production was around 240,000 barrels per day, about a quarter of Libya's recent production level.

Fighters from pro-government forces recaptured the storage depots in eastern Libya last week. The NOC announced Sunday that blazes at two of the storage facilities at Ras Lanuf have been extinguished.

"NOC thanks all Libyan soldiers, firefighters and maintenance crews across the country that put themselves in harm's way to save the livelihood of the Libyan people," its statement read.

The U.S. government, which contributed to NATO-led efforts to restore security in the wake of civil war that led to the downfall of Moammar Gadhafi, condemned actions led by Jadhran's militia. Heather Nuart, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Libya's "oil facilities, production, and revenues belong to the Libyan people."

Libyan oil production has been hampered by conflicts stemming from civil war that erupted in the wake of the Arab Spring movements earlier in the decade. Intense fighting near export terminals in early 2015 left oil storage depots ablaze and shut in exports for about a month.

Libya is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and on the sidelines of a collective agreement to curb production to stabilize a market recovering from the collapse in oil prices in early 2016.

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