Monday, 14 July 2014
Libya's Brega Port under siege as guards prevent exports
Libya’s energy sector was dealt another blow on 11 July when a group of protesters from the Oil Facilities Guard closed down the Brega Port and prevented a cargo that was in the port from loading.
The members of the guard are demanding that they be paid their backdated salaries, just as those members of the guard who were blocking the ports of Es-Sider, Ras Lanuf have been paid. One of the guards told the Turkish media on 11 July that “we closed Brega today as they haven’t given us our financial dues for several months. We will prevent all ships from being loaded with fuel. There is a cargo [in the port] and we won’t allow it to load oil until we receive our dues in full.”
Brega, run by the NOC’s Sirte Oil Company subsidiary, is a relatively small port with a 90,000 b/d capacity that has lately been used to supply the Zawia refinery. Its closure is a challenge given the troubles with the eastern oil export terminal ports over recent months and the fact that it will still take a while before operations are back to normal in Ras-Lanuf and Es-Sider, handed over earlier this month.
Given that the protesters are making purely financial demands the situation should be resolved easily enough. Despite this, with the political scene in such chaos and with the economic situation in deep crisis, how long it will take the government to resolve this standoff has yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, workers at the 103 Oil Field 200 km from Ajdabiya and operated by the Zuetina Oil Company stopped working this week. On 9 July the workers began an open sit-in at the field in protest against the company’s board. It is not clear exactly what it is about the board that the workers are protesting about, but they are refusing to leave unless their demands are met.
The good news, however, is that the agreement between the head of the Cyrenaican Transitional Council (CTC) politburo, Ibrahim Jedhran, and the government appears to be holding despite the fragility of the situation on the ground. It was reported this week that foreign workers have returned to work in the oil fields in Jalu and that European companies are restarting their operations.
For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.
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