News / Economy

Libya's Oil Chaos Deepens as Armed Group Shuts Pipeline

A general view of the port and Zawiya Oil Refinery, west of the city of Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 22, 2013.
A general view of the port and Zawiya Oil Refinery, west of the city of Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 22, 2013.
Reuters
Libya's largest western oilfields closed when an armed group shut down the pipeline linking them to ports, its deputy oil minister said on Tuesday, reducing its oil output to a trickle.
 
Total Libyan oil output would be just under 200,000 barrels per day from pre-war levels of around 1.6 million bpd, according to a Reuters estimate, the worst disruption since the civil war in 2011.
 
The fields - El Feel and El Sharara - linked to the pipeline have a combined capacity of around 500,000 barrels per day.
 
“I'm upset. This is something ridiculous. There is nothing to discuss, it's up to the defense ministry and guards to fix this,” Omar Shakmak told Reuters.
 
The group were not protesting oil workers or dissatisfied Petroleum Facilities Guard members, as in eastern Libya, he said, meaning there were no concrete demands up for negotiation.
 
“It's a third party,” Shakmak said, though he did not know who exactly or what they wanted.
 
In the east, striking workers, who had already cut Libyan oil output by over half, want more power for the eastern region, the oil minister said in a television interview earlier on Tuesday. Abdelbari al-Arusi said that output was at 665,000 bpd.
 
He blamed mainly non-oil workers and agitators pushing for federalism in Libya for the strikes, which he said had cost the country $2 billion in lost revenues.
 
Until the protests, improved oil production and higher prices had brought Libya a $3 billion revenue surplus over its target in the first half of this year, Arusi said.
 
Arusi said a prolonged strike could lead to a budget deficit. “If the strikes continue, we will reach very terrifying figures in losses,”  he said.“These groups announced federalism and they don't recognize the government nor the general national council.”

“These youths possess arms now and they have force, and by force they have prevented us from exporting oil and closed the ports,” he added.
 
The strikers had contacted tankers to load oil, Arusi said, adding that international firms keen to maintain long-term ties with Libya and their reputation had rejected those advances.
 
“They brought some tankers outside the state to load them with oil to transfer the financial revenue to their own private accounts,” he added.
 
“They contacted these oil firms, who got in touch with us and [asked] us whether they should deal with them. We told them they are illegal ... and so matters are under control and oil is in safe hands," Arusi said. “These international firms do not want to tarnish their reputation.”
 
Arusi rebuffed strikers' assertion that independent oil sales would prevent corrupt officials within the government from selling crude for personal gain.
 
They accuse the national oil company's senior administration of selling oil without using measurements of quantity.
 
“There are meters at every field and everything is transparent,” the oil minister said, adding Prime Minister Ali Zeidan had set up a commission of inquiry to look into such allegations.

Closed ports
 
The minister said the oil ports of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina and Marsa al Hariga, which are in the east where most of the country's oil production lies, remained closed.
 
Only Marsa al Brega in the east was open.
 
Brega loaded its first crude oil tanker since Aug. 9 over the weekend.
 
“The oil ports are completely closed. Brega was recently opened and Zueitina and Hariga are still closed. Every port has a different reason for their closure,” Arusi added.
 
He warned that a prolonged hiatus in exports would allow other producers, such as fellow OPEC member Saudi Arabia, to step in, depriving Libya of revenue and even possibly forcing it to sell oil at a discount to restore former customers.
 
“This has led to a loss of credibility in the international market ... Saudi Arabia has the ability to up production," he said. "Why do we deprive ourselves of these much-needed financial resources for reconstruction?”

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9211
JPY
USD
119.18
GBP
USD
0.6722
CAD
USD
1.2509
INR
USD
62.518

Rates may not be current.