Another interesting week of twists and turns within Libya’s oil and gas sector as resolution is reached at the El Sahara southern oil field with it getting back into production at 60,000 barrels per day and a hope that it will within days get back to its high of 340,000 bpd. This good news is undermined by the continuing force majeure put in place against the three key closed export ports of Sidra, Ras Lanuf and Zueitina by the National Oil Corporation to prevent the separatists potentially exporting and selling oil through their control of these key ports.
Separately the critical gas pipeline from the Wafa field to Mellitah that was previously blockaded by Amazigh protesters has now been blocked again but this time by Petroleum Facilities Guards who claim to have received no pay since March last year.
The bodies of two international expatriates, male and female, were discovered close to Mellitah on a beach on Friday. Mark de Salis, a UK citizen and a power plant engineer who had worked in Libya for some years and Lynn Howie, a New Zealand citizen, who was visiting Libya appear to have been executed. The motive is not yet known for the killings or who was responsible for them.
There were two unsuccessful assassination attempts on members of the security forces in Benghazi this week and two US basketball players, who were arrested at Benghazi University on Thursday have now been released.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
The General National Congress has scotched rumours that the President of the GNC had been arrested. The rumours appeared on a social media site on Friday.
The Labour Minister talked this week about the impact that the oil disruptions were having on the government’s ability to pay public sector salaries and the corrosive and detrimental effect that it was having on inward foreign investment.
Following the recent protests against the Prime Minister in Tripoli it has been announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now operating normally having been occupied by protesters since 29th December.
It is still not confirmed that last week’s arrest of Tunisia’s leader of Ansar Al Sharia, Benhassine, in Misrata actually occurred; indeed it has been vehemently denied by Ansar Al Sharia themselves.
Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)
Tribal tensions in Kufra have led the University of Benghazi to shut its campus there temporarily following rising tensions and sporadic disorder.
The failed attempted assassinations in Benghazi this week once again occurred on a Friday and were targeted against a Special Forces officer and a military intelligence officer in two separate attacks. The pattern of targets and their timing is now well-established. Unconfirmed reports have been received that a former soldier working in the port in Benghazi has been found shot dead. There have also been reports that today, Monday, an explosion outside the courthouse in the south of the city killed one Judicial Policeman and wounded another. There is little additional information on this attack at this stage. Separately there have been two reports of kidnappings within the city within the last two days, one of a 77 year old man and the other of a 6 year old child, the son of the editor of the Kalima newspaper. The motives are not known but are likely to be financially motivated by criminals.