Libyan Security From Bad To Worse As IS Trashes Oil Facilities

A spate of attacks by IS puts pressure for action on both the newly agreed unity government and Libya’s Western partners. But with the political situation in the country still fragile, there are no good options.

Libya has been rocked by a series of attacks by Islamic State (IS) against key oil installations and security facilities. The jihadist organization struck two major crude export terminals before attacking a police training camp, killing dozens. The escalation makes ever more likely an imminent intervention by Western forces, with or without an invitation from the country’s recognized national government. This could have serious consequences for the legitimacy of the government of national unity agreed through UN mediation just last month.

In strikes beginning on 4 January, IS militants shelled storage tanks at the Es Sider crude export terminal, in the middle of Libya’s so-called oil crescent between Sirte and Benghazi. Es Sider is Libya’s largest oil export facility, with nominal capacity of 450,000 b/d. Five crude storage tanks have been set alight, each containing an estimated 400,000 barrels of oil, and 10 guards killed, according to officials. Two car bombs were detonated at the gates to the terminal. There were also direct clashes between militants and security forces at the facility, according to a spokesman for the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), which is responsible for security at Libya’s oil installations. The Ras Lanuf terminal, east of Es Sider, has also been hit by militants. There are conflicting reports as to whether a storage tanks has been set ablaze. The terminal has nameplate capacity of 250,000 b/d. (CONTINUED - 2140 WORDS)