(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Clashes between rival militias broke out over the weekend over the control of Libya’s main crude oil ports, causing an oil shipment to be delayed, said a Libyan official.
Libya’s fragile state has left it exposed to a constant stream of unexpected attacks, jeopardizing whatever bits of security and stability the country has left.
The Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), who have controlled the oil ports since the downfall of Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, said they managed to regain control of Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil ports on late Saturday.
However, General Khalifa Haftar’s forces, who forcefully took control of the ports last week, kicked out the PFG from Sidra and Ras Lanuf on Sunday.
Since Libyan officials announced that the country’s oil production is expected to rise quickly with the reopening of the ports, the international community has been closely following the events in Libya, especially oil traders.
On Friday, US oil prices dropped to $43.03, a one-month low, because of the promised influx of oil production from Libya, which is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The clashes interrupted the shipment of a tanker which was supposed to be the first shipment of oil to be exported from Ras Lanuf since 2014, said the Libyan oil official.
The PFG fought to take back the two oil ports with air raids but were resisted by the militia group led by Muftah Mgerief, who is loyal to Haftar.
In hopes of resuming oil exports as soon as possible, the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) is now working with Haftar’s forces to secure the oil ports. Libya used to produce 1.6 million barrels per day, five times the volume it produces today.