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Libya oil corporation warns of disaster similar to Beirut explosion

August 11, 2020 at 9:25 am

Oil tanker moored at the harbour for maintenance in Libya on 28 May 2015 [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images]

Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), Mustafa Sanallah, on Saturday warned of the risk of a disaster in the Libyan oil ports like the one that befell the Lebanese capital Beirut, due to the increase in the military presence near tanks containing massive quantities of fuel which have not been exported because of the closures.

Sanallah said in a video that “the oil ports are closed, and the export operations are suspended. If the oil tanks are exposed to any source of heat or ignition, they will explode and lead to a disaster.”

He confirmed the presence of mercenaries with their weapons inside those facilities and near the oil tanks.

READ: Libya: $7.9bn losses due to oil installations closures 

Sanallah revealed that El-Brega port contains 25,000 tonnes of toxic and highly explosive ammonia gas, which will form a large deadly cloud if it leaks or result in a massive explosion if it is exposed to heat or fire.

The Libyan official added that tens of thousands of Libyans are at risk.

Sanallah demanded the evacuation of militants and mercenaries from the ports, and for buffer zones around the oil installations to be kept free of weapons.

Forces and militias affiliated with retired Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar control Libyan ports and prevent the export of oil, causing significant losses to the Libyan economy.

More than 200 people were killed, 6,000 were injured and some 300,000 made homeless after a massive explosion in Beirut port ripped through the capital last Tuesday. The blast destroyed parts of the city and intensified the economic and political distress which has engulfed Lebanon for months.

READ: Libya to impose full lockdown as pandemic cases grow

The Libyan oil and Haftar - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Libyan oil and Haftar – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]