Libyan oil production has plummeted by more than 30 per cent after armed militants blocked pipelines and closed oilfields, resulting in loss in revenues of about $160m, the national oil company said on Wednesday.
The largest Libyan oil field, Sharara, has been closed for more than ten days while another, El Feel, shut this week, after militias seized pipelines linking them to export terminals. Hamada has also been closed because of a pipeline blockade.
This has reduced production by 360,000 barrels a day. “These gangsters are not only harming the country but their own people”, said Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the National Oil Corporation. “I call on tribal leaders to cut out this cancer once and for all.”
Since the fall of the regime of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has plunged into chaos, with no central government.
The Islamic State has taken advantage of the situation to conquer vast swaths of land in the country, mostly in coastal regions where many criminal gangs indulge in illegal migrant trafficking.
Rival groups signed a political accord that hashed out a Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Serraj. Despite strong and vast backing from the international community, the GNA is still struggling to assert its authority challenged by Islamists and armed groups.
Western powers have called many times on all Libyan warring factions to refrain from hostilities and avoid any action that could damage or disrupt Libya’s energy infrastructure.
“Restoring oil exports is vital to generating revenues that can provide for the essential needs of the Libyan people, including electricity, healthcare, and infrastructure”, said a statement issued by NATO allies.