TRIPOLI, Dec 26, 2012 (AFP) -
TRIPOLI, Dec 26, 2012 (AFP) –
Libyan demonstrators have forced a major oil terminal in the east of the country to halt operations for four days in a row, the deputy oil minister said on Wednesday.
“The management of the Zueitina oil terminal and harbour decided to shut down operations on Saturday to avoid any risk,” Omar Shakmak told AFP.
He said the decision was made after protesters demanding jobs and health benefits entered the terminal and pressured a manager to stop operations.
Demonstrations continued on Wednesday drawing up to 120 people, he said.
“We have no losses other than production,” Shakmak added, noting that Zueitina pumps roughly 60,000 barrels of crude per day.
Analysts estimate 20 percent of Libyan oil exports depart from the port.
The Zueitina oil terminal lies 145 kilometres (90 miles) south of Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 insurrection that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Libya’s oil production is back to pre-conflict levels of 1.6 mbpd.
But oil installations have become a focal point of protests in the wake of July polls that ushered in the country’s first elected authorities.
Shakmak condemned the use of “oil operations and terminals to pressure the government.”
Lacking an effective police force or army, the new authorities are still struggling to co-opt and contain armed groups born out of last year’s war.