MS Risk Blog

UPDATE: Port of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider Ports

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11 September, 2016

Forces loyal to Libya’s unrecognized Tobruk government have seized the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports in Libya’s oil crescent. Clashes are ongoing for control of Zueitina port.

On Sunday, a spokesman the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced that its fighters had wrested control of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports, and clashes were underway at Zueitina port. The statement was confirmed by Libya’s National Oil Corporation and the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

Mixed accounts suggest that the LNA has also taken control of Brega port, as well as the south and east gates of the city of Ajdabiya. However, these reports could not be triangulated.

The ports were under the control of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG). In July, PFG leader Ibrahim Jathran struck a deal with the UN-backed government to end its blockade of the key ports, which were scheduled to resume operations after long stoppage.

The LNA is led by General Khalifa Haftar, a powerful and controversial military figure. Haftar has opposed the unity government since its establishment in December 2015, maintaining loyalty to the rival administration based in Tobruk. The eastern government has not recognised the GNA’s authority, and in August issued a vote of no confidence against the group. A spokesman for the Tobruk-based authority stated that the attack was intended to regain full control of the oil crescent from the GNA; they have previously threatened to try to sell crude themselves.

Together, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports account for more than half of Libya’s oil output, and their revival represents a vital source of revenue for the OPEC nation. It is expected that forces loyal to the GNA will attempt to recover these vital assets.

MS Risk has previously warned that control of key facilities in Libya could change hands with little or no notice. There remain several armed groups seeking control over Libyan oil assets, and it is likely that pro-GNA forces will seek to regain control of the ports. The government remains extremely unstable and the compounded situation in the nation is extremely fluid. As a result, the ports remain at a high risk for violent attack by opposing groups, which could target the infrastructure at the ports. MS Risk advises extreme caution to all vessels entering Libyan waters. Ship-owners and masters should correspond with local agents and stay abreast of the most recent information available.