By Chase Lacy
Rabat- Forces loyal to Libya’s renegade general Khalifa Haftar claim they have recaptured the Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil terminals taken last week by Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) and militias, a claim denied by the PFG.
The oil terminals in Libya’s northeastern oil crescent came under heavy fighting after Ibrahim Jadhran, head of the PFG, claimed in a video he had formed an alliance to retake the terminals.
Jadhran’s PFG controlled the terminals from the overthrow of the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 until September 2016, when Haftar’s Libyan National Army seized them.
The National Oil Corporation (NOC) said that on Saturday storage tanks had sustained “significant damage.” Two storage tanks destroyed by fires have reduced Ras Lanuf’s storage capacity by 400,000 barrels.
Mustafa Sanalla, head of NOC, said the fighting “will ultimately result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs and billions in lost sale revenue.” Output has been reduced by 450,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) plus 70 million cubic feet of natural gas by the recent fighting, resulting in a loss of USD 33 million in revenue.
Libya is in desperate need of its oil revenue for reconstruction and social prosperity efforts. During the Gaddafi era, Libya produced 1.6 million bpd. After the 2011 revolution it dropped to 20 percent of this figure, but gradually recovered to over one million bpd by the end of 2017.
Libya, since the fall of Gaddafi, has undergone successive turmoils. Khalifa Haftar controls the majority of Eastern Libya, in opposition to the internationally recognised government based in Tripoli. Huge swaths of the country are still controlled by local militias, and parts are controlled by ISIS.
Haftar’s forces believe the attack was to hurt their main source of income, and that the PFG were supported by the Tripoli government. In the meantime, Haftar’s LNA is engaged in an offensive to take Derna, the last coastal city in the east that Haftar has not captured. LNA believe the attack on the oil terminals could be meant to distract from the Derna conflict.
The destabilization of Libya is especially concerning for European nations that have received millions of migrants and refugees who set off from Libyan shores. Currently in Libya there are an estimated 700,000-1 million migrants, and the Libyan authorities have not adequately created facilities for these people.
There are additional worries over human rights abuses that have become commonplace in Libya, such as slave markets, as revealed in an undercover report by CNN.