Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) on Tuesday said the presence of a warship in the Ras Lanuf oil port since Saturday poses great security risks.
The NOC pointed to the presence of several security breaches at Ras Lanuf, “the most recent at the end of last week involving the discharge of live ammunition” in an area that has many oil installations.
On Friday, the NOC said that the Mohamed Bey, a Comoros-registered vessel, was scheduled to enter the commercial section of Ras Lanuf port to load scrap. The company said the armed men of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) - including foreign mercenaries intimidated the crew of the Mohamed Bey by firing live rounds and RPG shells in an area where dangerous and highly flammable materials are stored.
“NOC demands the immediate withdrawal of all military personnel from its facilities to protect the safety of its employees and the integrity of its infrastructure,” a NOC spokesman was quoted in the statement as saying.
“We cannot tolerate the lives of our employees being put at risk or our facilities being damaged or destroyed by illegal military activity,” he said
Libya's internationally-recognized government has been under attack by Halifa Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.
Oil production has almost come to a standstill in the country after pro-Haftar groups shut down oil facilities in eastern parts of the country in January to squeeze resources of the UN-recognized Libyan government.
On Aug. 19, the east Libya-based warlord Haftar lifted the blockade on ports and oil facilities.
Libya has the largest proven crude oil reserves in Africa at 48.4 billion barrels. Natural gas and oil income represent approximately 90% of the government’s revenue.
The country exports oil mainly to Italy, France, Spain and Germany. However, the Libyan economy has experienced a significant decline because of political unrest and a corresponding decline in production in oil fields which came under the control of Haftar forces.
By Sibel Morrow