By Michel Cousins, Ashraf Abdul-Wahab and Jamel Adel.
Tripoli, 12 February 2014:
Major power cuts in Tripoli are expected following a new blockade . . .[restrict]of the pipeline carrying gas from the Wafa field, 160 kilometers south of Ghadames, to the Ruwais power station in the Jebel Nafusa and the Mellitah gas complex near Zuwara. The electricity company, GECOL, has warned residents in the capital that outages are inevitable as a result of the power station having to stop production. On its website it said that it had asked elders and anyone else who could help to negotiate a solution to whatever the problem was so as to get the gas flowing again.
According to the manager of Mellitah port, Mustafa Al-Fard, an unknown group blockaded the pipeline’s Station No. 5 in the near Derj, some 60 kilometres east of Ghadames yesterday evening at 5 pm.
There were early suggestions that Tuareg militants might be responsible. The area is where a significant number of Tuareg were resettled having been forced to leave Ghadames after the revolution by Arab residents because, it was claimed, they had been Qaddafi supporters. Living in reportedly “dire conditions” they have been demanding the right to return ever since.
However, reliable sources at Mellitah and in Zintan this evening told the Libya Herald that “young Zintanis” were responsible, much to the anger of Zintani leaders. It was not clear, they said, what the blockaders wanted.
Al-Fard told this newspaper this morning that if the blockade of continued, it would affect Libya’s gas exports and cause power cuts throughout the west of Libya because of the importance of the Ruwais power station.
With six-gas fired turbines, it has been providing 600 MW to the national grid.
It stopped production in November when Amazigh protestors blockaded the pipeline in the Jebel Nafusa demanding more seats in the 60-member Constitutional Committee. The blockade ended at the beginning of December although it was only on 8 December that the gas started flowing again.
Two of the turbines at Ruwais can operate on oil, and during the November blockade one of them did so for a while, but it had taken 50 trucks a day to feed it with 60,000 tonnes of diesel. This produced 125 MW, compared to 150 MW when running on gas. [/restrict]