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Military presence at Libya oil fields 'may lead to Beirut-like disaster'

Libya is wrecked with war [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 August, 2020

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The Libyan government warned against the militarisation of Libyan oil fields.
Militarisation of oil facilities in Libya can lead to disasters even more severe than the recent explosions in Beirut, the the state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) of the UN-backed Libyan government warned on Sunday.

An explosion on Tuesday in Beirut's port area killed at least 157 people and wounded 5,000 others, wreaking damage across the coastal city.

"The militarisation of oil facilities, the presence of mercenaries as well as the military escalation increase the risks that hydrocarbons and chemicals stored at oil ports pose to workers and local population," said NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla.

"This may lead to a disaster that is severer than the Port of Beirut and a massive destruction that will cause Libya to be out of the oil market for so many years," he added.

"This will also result in the loss of sales opportunities estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars that other oil-producing countries will benefit from. Furthermore, tens of billions will be needed for reconstruction at a time when budgets available are limited," Sanalla said.

The NOC added that foreign mercenaries allied with UAE-backed Khalifa Aftar are occupying major oilfields and ports in Libya, shutting down oil production, which has caused losses of nearly 8 billion US dollars so far.

Libya has been torn by violence since the 2011 ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising, and the conflict has since drawn in multiple foreign powers.

Since 2015, a power struggle has pitted the UN-recognised, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against forces loyal to Haftar, who is based in eastern Benghazi.

The US officially backs the UN-recognised government led by Sarraj, but its stance has also faced questions, with President Donald Trump praising Haftar last year.

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