Libya's Sarir Oil Field Unable to Operate Due to Militants Attack

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Sunday, February 15, 2015

Libya's al-Sarir oil field is still unable to pump oil to Hariga port after sabotage on a pipeline just north of the field where repairs are ongoing, an oil official said on Sunday.

The pipeline was damaged and set on fire on Saturday, halting crude flows to Hariga, the last land-based oil export port still loading in the war-torn country.

"The fire has been extinguished. There is only minor damage. We will need three days to fix it," the official said.

Hariga had just reopened after a strike by guards there. The country's two main oil ports and nearby fields are still closed after clashes between rival armed groups trying to gain control of them.

Meanwhile, Libya's National Oil Corporation urgently called on Saturday for more official protection for its installations after the oil pipeline in Sarir field was sabotaged.

No group claimed responsibility for Saturday's pipeline sabotage, but oil infrastructure, ports and pipelines in the North African OPEC member state are often targets of attack.

Libya is riven by conflict, with two rival governments operating their own armed forces under separate parliaments, nearly four years after the NATO-backed uprising that led to the overthrow and death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The fighting also involves Islamist militant groups, former rebels who were backed and armed by the West and Gulf Arabs, soldiers who fought for Gaddafi, and tribal and federalist factions often pursuing local causes.

In addition to the Sarir sabotage, the National Oil Corporation said in a statement that gunmen had also tried on Friday to attack the Bahi oil facility in central Libya, but did not cause any damage.

"The NOC warns that the number of oil installation guards currently in the fields is not enough to protect them and to address such attacks," it said.

Libya's oil production has fallen to around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd), a fraction of the 1.6 million bpd Libya used to pump before 2011.

Apart from fighting between the two rival factions vying for control of Libya, militants claiming ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have also said they carried out several recent attacks.

Earlier this month, gunmen killed 12 people south of Sirte, among them two Filipino and two Ghanaian nationals, after storming a remote oilfield. Officials said most of the victims were beheaded or shot.

French and Libyan officials said ISIS militants were behind the attack on the oilfield, in which France's Total has a stake, but which is operated by a Libyan company.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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