(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Pipelines at the Zueitina oil terminal, west of Benghazi, Libya.Reuters
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) appealed to militia groups in the east to refrain from attacking or damaging the Zueitina oil port after rumours spread that fighting near the eastern port is very likely.
The NOC was worried that forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar would try to resist the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) near Zueitina because the PFG have given their loyalty to the UN-backed unity government (GNA) based in Tripoli.
Last month, the PFG came to an agreement with the GNA to allow for three ports that the PFG was blockading, Zueitinia being one of them, to reopen.
Haftar does not recognize the GNA and senior members of his forces threatened to take out tankers because the agreement to reopen the oil port took place without the approval the House of Representatives (HoR), the parliament based in the east, who he is loyal to.
In a statement, Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of the NOC, pleaded with the two forces saying, “I ask both sides to withhold from actions that could damage the infrastructure, including using the facilities as a physical shield. I also ask both sides to give NOC safe passage now, before any operation commences, to move the oil in storage at the port to a safe location.”
Ali Al-Hassi, a spokesperson for the PFG, said that they have received threats from Haftar’s forces ever since the agreement was made public. Al-Hassi said there were “rebel gangs” who were trying to take over Zueitina and other terminals and fields.
Haftar’s forces have yet to comment on the situation.