Tripoli, 29 January 2013:
The oil minister, Abdulbari Al-Arusi, met this evening, Tuesday, members of the Tuareg Advisory Council to discuss their . . .[restrict]demands for jobs in the oil industry in the south of the country. The council consists of Tuareg tribal chiefs and elders.
The meeting took place in Tripoli.
The Tuareg are demanding jobs for their young people, together with training and employment in the oil companies operating in southern Libya. They also want oil income to be reinvested in the area in hospitals and health centres as well as in agricultural projects.
They also want the government to locate part of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in the south of the country.
In a bid to placate Cyrenaica federalists, the government has already indicated that it is prepared to separate the NOC’s refining and petrochemicals operations from exploration and production and to locate the former in Benghazi and retain the latter in Tripoli. This has not satisfied the federalists who are demanding that everything should move east.
There was a suggestion late last year that the NOC was also thinking of a three-way split, with one NOC operation going south. So far, there have been no details as to what section would relocate there.
Dialogue with the Tuareg is seen as particular timely following the attack by militant Islamists on the In Amenas facility just across the border in Algeria on 16 January. The Tuareg are key to the safety of oil facilities both in south-western Libya and south-eastern Algeria. The areas, along with northern Mali and Niger, are home to the Tuareg. With their active cooperation, the risk of attacks is likely to be considerably reduced.