By Tsvetana Paraskova
Libya’s oil could be under threat again, as fresh militant clashes may be coming to its oil region, just after the June-July standoff that crippled production and exports ended.
Ibrahim Jadhran—who led the attack on Libya’s Oil Crescent in June resulting in crippling the country’s oil production and exports during the summer—is now teaming up with tribes and forces loyal to Gaddafi and with Chadian rebels to plan a new military operation, aiming to strike the oil region again, media report.
Jadhran has met with Omar Tantoush, a former leader of the forces of eastern strongman General Khalifa Haftar who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA), to form a brigade of Gaddafi loyalists, the Libya Observer reports, quoting another news outlet, The New Arab. Tantoush defected from Haftar’s forces months ago.
The new militia is said to be plotting to strike three key targets: the oil crescent, airbases that Haftar forces could use, and a military base, according to The New Arab.
In June, Jadhran-led forces attacked oil ports in the Oil Crescent, damaging the Ras Lanuf oil terminal, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said at the time.
After a week of fighting, Haftar’s LNA recaptured the four ports in the Oil Crescent in the east, and handed their control to the unrecognized oil company in the east.
Libya’s oil production came to a halt at the beginning of July, after the Tripoli-based NOC declared force majeure on crude oil loadings at the Hariga and Zuetina oil terminals, adding to the force majeure at the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider terminals.
Two weeks later, Haftar agreed to hand back control of the ports to the internationally recognized NOC, and Libya reopened its eastern oil ports.
The port closure had blocked 850,000 bpd of Libya’s oil (nearly all Libyan production) from being exported from the four ports for more than two weeks. This major disruption resulted in Libyan crude oil production slumping from 962,000 bpd in May to an average 721,000 bpd in June and further down to 664,000 bpd in July, according to OPEC’s secondary sources.
Tsvetana Paraskova is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.