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Libya: Haftar attacks threaten to suspend Zawia oil port

Zawia oil port

Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) has warned that it may be forced to suspend all operations in the oil port of Zawia (west) and evacuate the Zawia refinery, in case clashes do not stop near its installations.

The Libyan government forces announced that Khalifa Haftar militia warplanes launched on Saturday an airstrike targeting the Institute of Applied Engineering in the city of Zawia.

The NOC added in a statement that it warned of the possibility of suspending operations in the port of Zawia, evacuating the Zawia refinery and pumping inert gas to find a medium to prevent ignition, in the event of the expansion of military operations within the limits of the refinery, following renewed clashes near them.

The NOC also reported the possibility of stopping production in El Sharara oil field (South), whose products of crude oil and its derivatives are exported from the port of Zawia.

The Corporation explained that the sites adjacent to the oil storage areas, which are run by the Zawia refinery, were subjected to airstrikes on Saturday, making it the third time that attacks have been carried out near these installations during the past 48 hours.

READ: Haftar air force carries out strike on oil facility in Libya

The Libyan Corporation added that it had held emergency talks to assess the situation with the companies affiliated with it, including Akakus Oil Operation, Brega Petroleum Marketing Company and Azzawiya Oil Refining Company, as well as the NOC's international partners.

Mustafa Sanallah, Chairman of NOC, said that the suspension of the operations in the port of Zawia would lead to a reduction in Libyan oil production by at least 300,000 barrels per day, and might cause the Zawia refinery to stop refining oil.

"The NOC will be forced to import the deficient amounts of fuel, which will cost the deteriorating Libyan economy losses estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars," added Sanallah in a statement.

He stressed that the Corporation would do its best, despite the challenges, to ensure the continuation of oil and gas production.

READ: US ready to support negotiations between Libya parties

"However, we cannot operate the facilities if there is a threat to the lives of the production teams and the local population," explained Sanallah.

He concluded: "We will be forced to suspend all operations and declare a force majeure over the exports of the port of Zawia if the clashes do not stop. We may even be forced to suspend operations in oil fields that pump crude oil to the port of Zawia, like El Sharara oil field."

Backed by regional countries, Haftar's forces are combating with the internationally recognised Libyan government for legitimacy and power in the oil-rich region.

With the support of the United Nations, Germany is seeking to bring together the countries concerned with the Libyan affairs at an international conference in Berlin, in an attempt to find a political solution to the Libyan conflict.

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