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Libya warns of total blackout if smugglers continue blockade

Image of electricity grid [file photo]
Image of electricity grid [file photo]

The General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) has warned of a possible total blackout in Libya’s electricity network if today’s blockade of the main fuel pipeline by fuel smugglers continues.

“A number of individuals shut down the main valve of the main natural gas pipeline feeding Zawia power station” GECOL said in a statement.

“This has led to the loss of a large part of the power generation of this (Zawia) station as a result of having to use liquid fuel. This has increased the generation deficit and the hours of power cuts. It has also led to a total blackout in some areas.”

GECOL further warned that ‘‘if this closure of the gas feeding pipeline continues for more than three days, the power station will cease generating power as a result of the lack of availability of liquid fuel at its storage tanks. This could lead to a total blackout of the whole of Libya’s network”.

Avoiding blaming specific people or groups, GECOL called on “all to accept responsibility” and “intervene in order to find a solution to the crisis before the occurrence of a catastrophe and before the country enters a total blackout”.

The chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) Mustafa Sanalla accused the Western Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) Nasr brigade and its leader Mohamed Kashlaf, who secured the Zawia refinery, of domestic and international fuel smuggling.

This unprecedented public shaming caused the Nasr brigade to withdraw from the refinery, which the NOC welcomed.

The Government of National Accord also warned that the Libyan Coast Guard will stop and seize any fuel-smuggling vessel approaching the Libyan coast without prior authorisation and will issue arrest warrants through Interpol.

The lists of smuggling will also be referred to international maritime organisations for further action.

Unconfirmed reports have surfaced recently of at least two incidents of smugglers’ fuel tanker trucks being attacked by militias on their way to the border. The vigilante militias have previously declared that they will be mounting an operation against fuel smugglers.

The closure of the fuel pipeline to Zawia power station is believed to be one of the counter measures the smugglers intend to take, including closing the coastal road to Tripoli.