By Sami Zaptia.
London, 14 June 2019:
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) expressed concern yesterday over what it called ‘‘an increased military presence’’ at its Ras Lanuf oil terminal. It said that this could potentially make the oil terminal a military target. It warned that these actions could result in the withdrawal of NOC personnel from the port for their safety.
The NOC reported that a group of around 80 military personnel under the command of Major General Abdullah Nur al-Din al-Hamali entered the port on Wednesday, 5 June.
The NOC went on to say that the military personnel had taken over a building within the terminal and are converting it for military use. In addition, the forces have attempted to fuel a warship, appropriated meals designated for staff, and seized 31 dormitories allocated to Harouge Oil Operations (HOO) employees, which is the NOC subsidiary operating the port.
“NOC works on behalf of all Libyans. We cannot accept a situation where any party to the current conflict misuses oil facilities,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla was quoted as saying with regards to the incident.
“The presence of forces inside the terminal represents an unacceptable risk to employees. This renders the terminal a potential military target, thereby risking the destruction of Libyan oil infrastructure – and the resulting economic crisis that would follow,” he had added.
The NOC said that it will not compromise on the safety of staff. If risk assessment indicates that continued operations present an unacceptable risk to workers, it will take steps necessary to protect them – including their withdrawal from the terminal.
In concluding the statement, the NOC reiterated its neutrality, non-partisanship and detachment from the ongoing Tripoli conflict.
On the other hand, the Chairman of the House of Representatives (HoR) Energy and Natural Resources Committee of Issa Al-Araibi, declared his rejection and condemnation of the statements made by Mustafa Sanalla regarding the LNA’s control over the oil fields and the oilfields.
Al-Araibi added that after the LNA took control of the oil fields, the Libya’s production rates increased and all the facilities provided by the LNA were safe and secure and the work was progressing excellently, which led to increased Libyan oil exports.
It will be recalled that it was the Khalifa Hafter-led LNA that twice liberated Libya’s eastern oil fields from militia leader Ibrahim Jadran (Jadhran) and handed them over to the Tripoli-based NOC.