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Eastern forces in Libya expand oil blockade  

A general view shows an oil refinery in Libya's northern town of Ras Lanuf on January 11, 2017 [ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP via Getty Images]
A general view shows an oil refinery in Libya's northern town of Ras Lanuf on January 11, 2017 [ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP via Getty Images]

A blockade of Libyan oil output by groups aligned with forces in the east of the country expanded yesterday and today with the closure of two more export terminals, a threat to close another, and reduced production at a major field, engineers said, according to Reuters.

Yesterday exports were halted at the ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider.

Today, a group urged the closure of Hariga port. Engineers at Sarir field said production had been reduced.

Libyan oil output had already fallen by about half to 600,000 barrels per day after groups closed the major Sharara and El Feel fields last month, though work at Sharara briefly resumed this week before stopping again.

Tribal leaders said they would halt oil production in southern and central Libya until UN-backed Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh hands over power to the government of Fathi Bashagha who was appointed by the eastern-based House of Representatives.

READ: Libya can provide Europe with oil, gas

Analysts and diplomats say the oil shutdown has been largely instigated by the main factions in eastern Libya including commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army.

Libya's political deadlock has not yet led to any major bout of fighting after nearly two years of comparative peace since an assault on Tripoli by Haftar was repelled in 2020.

Previous periods of political tension in Libya have frequently involved shutdowns of oil output or exports by various forces.

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