Rebels from the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) attacked Libya's largest oil terminals — the al-Sidra reserve and Ra's Lanuf refinery — which are under the control of strongman Khalifa Haftar and his self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA). The attackers were quickly fought off, according to the LNA.
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Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said the facilities had been evacuated: "Due to armed conflict in the area." It estimated production would fall by 240,000 barrels per day (bpd) and advised two tankers scheduled to arrive at the ports to remain at sea until the situation was under control.
Struggle for control of the oil crescen
In September 2016, the LNA gained control of Libya's four largest oil terminals from the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) led by Ibrahim Jadhran, which held them for two years.
Jadhran opposes both the administration in the east and the Government of National Accord.
It is unclear whether Jadhran played a role in the attack, although he announced on social media: "The preparation of our ground forces and supporting forces in the oil region."
"Our objective is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years," Jadhran wrote.
On the offensive
Observers say an offensive in Derna, a port city in eastern Libya, which began in May has preoccupied the LNA and thus may have left it vulnerable at al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf.
The oil sector, Libya's economic backbone, has recovered of late but has been regularly affected by shutdowns and blockades.
Last year total output reached 1 million bpd, which is well shy of the 1.6 million bpd being produced before the 2011 uprising that toppled Gadhafi.
In May, exports of crude oil from Ras Lanuf were running at 110,000 bpd, while exports from Es Sider reached 300,000 bpd.
js/msh (AFP, Reuters)
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