By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 21 May 2013:
The Energy Committee of the General National Congress today said that that anyone who forces oil . . .[restrict]facilities to close should be prosecuted in the courts. People had the right to make peaceful protests, the Committee said, but no one had the right to shut down installations or prevent people from going to work there.
The call follows a spate of attacks and sieges of oil complexes, often by protestors unconnected to the oil industry or by locals demanding jobs in the sector. Yesterday, armed gunmen attacked the Mellitah gas complex west of Zuara injuring at least two guards.
Last week, for the fourth time since November, protestors forced the closure of the Zueitina oil terminal, stopping exports, over demands for jobs for locals. In March, protestors forced the closure of the Gialo field for 17 days, again over the issue of jobs. According to Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi the latter caused Libya to lose 120,000 barrels of oil a day in production.
Such acts were illegal and deeply harmful to the state and its economy, the Committee said. Those responsible should be brought to account. Noting that Congress has asked the Government to ensure oil facilities were fully protected, it added that there needed to be more awareness in the country about the importance of the oil sector.
Protests such as sit-ins were a democratic right, it said, but some were deliberately intent on closing oil facilities in a bid to force the government into concessions. It was resulting in material losses and giving foreign companies the impression that Libya was unstable as investment environment and investment in the oil sector was not safe.