Tripoli, 9 May 2012:
Government security forces this morning moved in and arrested 30 armed demonstrators, ending the 17-day blockade Benghazi headquarters . . .[restrict]of the Arabian Gulf Oil Company.
AGOCO spokesman Abdeljalil Mayuf told Libya Herald there was shooting and some minor injuries, but no fatalities, when government forces arrived in some 30 vehicles at around three o’clock this morning. The whole operation was over quickly. Once the demonstrators had been taken away, the security forces secured the perimeter of the complex in Al-Qish.
Mayuf said that on Sunday staff would be returning to the offices from which they have been excluded since April 24, when the protestors sealed the main entrance and erected a tent in front of it.
The blockaders, who were not AGOCO workers, had been demanding greater transparency on government spending, the firing of all Qaddafi-era officials and jobs for young people.
They made no specific demands in relation to AGOCO, the country’s largest oil producer.
After its own negotiators, working with civic leaders failed to persuade the demonstrators to go away, AGOCO called on the government to act. What it saw as the failure of the authorities to take decisive action, so frustrated the oil firm’s management that in protest, they began to cut production from the Sarid and Messla fields. Two reductions saw output, fall from 370,000 to 340,000 barrels a day. More cuts were threatened if the government refused to act.
Mayuf said that production was unlikely to return to normal until Sunday, which will mean that the strike will have cost Libya around $65 million in lost crude sales.
Yesterday Minister of Planning Isa Tuwegiar speaking of the stand-off at AGOCO and the similar blockade at the Bengahzi works of the Libyan Cement Company, told Libya Herald:
“ These are temporary problems. The government does not want to get into clashes. This will be solved very soon, before the elections.” [/restrict]