NOC Empties Ras Lanuf Storage after Islamic State Attacks
The Libyan National Oil Corp (NOC) has emptied oil storage tanks at the Ras Lanuf terminal as a precaution after Islamic State militants attacked the country's two biggest oil ports last week, an adviser to the company linked to Libya's official, eastern-based government said on Monday.
Islamic State attacked the oil terminals at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, which lie between the town of Sirte, which is controlled by the militant group, and the eastern city of Benghazi.
The attacks triggered several days of clashes between militants and the Petroleum Facilities Guard and caused fires at five oil storage tanks in Es Sider and two others at the Ras Lanuf facility about 13 miles (20 km) away.
The Petroleum Facilities Guard, which lost 18 of its members in the attacks and clashes, said the last of those fires was put out on Friday.
"We have taken all the oil stored in the tanks there (Ras Lanuf) to a safer location," Mohamed al-Manfi, an adviser at NOC in eastern Libya, said.
Since losing Tripoli to a rival government, Libya's official government based in the east has appointed its own NOC management. So far, foreign oil buyers have sought to ignore the conflict by continuing to pay through the state's NOC and the central bank in Tripoli, using a system in place for decades under leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Al-Manfi declined to give further details but told Reuters last week that each of the oil tanks was estimated to contain 420,000 to 460,000 barrels of oil.
Libya is split between political factions and armed groups competing for power and for the country's oil wealth, four years after the revolt that toppled Gaddafi. Oil output has dwindled to less than one quarter of a 2011 high of 1.6 million barrels per day.
Islamic State has used the security vacuum to expand its presence in Libya, though it has not taken control of oil installations in the country.
The United Nations is trying to win support for a deal to form a national unity government in Libya, but the plan has faced resistance from members of the rival parliaments.
Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli