Libya’s brief period of relative stability over the past six months which enabled it to boost oil output to around 700,000 b/d for the first two months of the year, has come crashing down as a Benghazi militia wrested control of two key export terminals from the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). The shutdown of the two terminals forced a sharp drop in production to 602,000 b/d as workers were evacuated (MEES, 17 March). The LNA has reclaimed control of the terminals, but the events raise further question marks over the country’s ability to maintain production in the coming months, let alone meet ambitious production growth targets.
On 3 March the Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB) under the leadership of Mustafa Sharksi seized control of the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf export facilities on a section of Libya’s central coast known as the ‘oil crescent’. The LNA had taken control of the facilities, along with another oil crescent terminal further east at Zueitina, in September, enabling Libya to ship crude from all its major export terminals for the first time in two years. After an intense period of fighting involving air and ground attacks, the LNA reclaimed the facilities on 14 March. It also repelled a BDB attack against the Brega terminal. (CONTINUED - 2139 WORDS)