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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.