The headlines this week revolve around Libya’s continued problems within its critical oil and gas sector. The Minister for Oil, Abdelbari Arusi, announced this week that Libya has foregone $7.29 billion since the disruptions began in July this year. Production is currently down to 250,000 barrels per day rather than 1.4 million, with half of that being needed to keep the Zawiya refinery operational. Increased production from Nigeria and Algeria is further adding to Libya’s turmoil by squeezing Libya’s diminished export markets. Mr Arusi finished by saying that only the El-Feel field, offshore operations and fields belonging to the state-owned Sirte Oil Company were still producing oil.
The outages that have been a feature of recent weeks due to the Amazigh protest and the squeeze they have applied continued also this week with Tripoli suffering a series of power outages on Saturday. There was some room for optimism over the weekend when it was announced that the Wafa field flows of gas to Ruwais power station might resume imminently.
Security concerns remain with Benghazi and the east of the country with a number of killings this week including a US teacher, Ronnie Smith, who was shot dead by unknown attackers as he jogged in the city. Separately a military intelligence colonel was killed on Saturday when his car exploded in Benghazi and then a further person was killed and six wounded when a car exploded at his funeral in the city the next day.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
It was announced this week that the Algerian Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, would visit Libya at the end of the month for talks with the Libyan Prime Minister on security. Algeria has beefed up its border security since the In Amenas attack but is keen to ensure that there is no repeat and to be supporting its neighbour.
The Military Integrity and Reform Commission debarred a further 23 officers for their involvement with the former regime this week. In November some 915 servicemen were debarred from further service and there are 100s of files still to be considered. The process is not as extreme as the Iraqi debaathification measures but one has to wonder what the future holds for those debarred.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Ronnie Smith, the American chemistry teacher who had been teaching in Libya for nearly 18 months was shot dead whilst he jogged in Benghazi on Thursday. It was a sad indictment as to the continuing poor state of security in Benghazi.
Then on Saturday Colonel Kamal Bazaza was blown up whilst driving through the city. He was rushed to hospital but despite a lengthy operation on his legs died on Sunday morning. He was believed to have been Military Intelligence and leading on an investigation in Benghazi into a number of terrorist suspects. Worryingly his funeral was then targeted by another car bomb that killed one and wounded six as they left the funeral at the Al-Hawari cemetery. This is the first time that such a tactic has been employed in Libya.