Libya’s NOC warns of ‘environmental disaster’ amid oil blockade

NOC says suspension of oil exports, lack of enough storage capacity risk causing oil leaks.

Libya’s NOC warns of ‘environmental disaster’ amid oil blockade

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) on Saturday warned of an “impending environmental disaster” as a result of oil leaks due to lack of enough storage capacity for crude oil.

“We have lost a lot of storage capacity and therefore we will not be able to store all the quantity (of crude oil),” the NOC said in a statement.

“We are at risk of losing the amount of crude and the line carrying it, due to its waxy nature or the leakage of crude oil from the tanks at the (Zuwetina) terminal,” it added.

In mid-April, the state-owned company declared force majeure on oil exports from the Zuwetina port and El-Feel and El-Sharara oilfields.

The move came after tribal leaders announced halting oil production in southern and central Libya until Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh hands over power to the newly appointed government of Fathi Bashagha.

They also called for the sacking of Mustafa Sanalla, head of the NOC, and for the appointment of a new board for the company.

The suspension of oil exports, NOC said, means “the tanks of Zuwetina do not have enough storage capacity to accommodate the Abu-Attofel crude oil due to the leaks that began to occur in these tanks whenever the height of the crude oil in the tank reaches a certain level (which) leads to the rise of the weight of crude and therefore the bottom of the tank will not bear this weight.”

The state-run company called on Libyan authorities to allow it “to operate the terminal immediately or at the very least to allow us to ship one shipment to reduce inventory and obtain additional storage capacities at the terminal to accommodate what is on the line.”

On Tuesday, Libyan Oil and Gas Minister Mohamed Aoun told Anadolu Agency that he expects oil exports to be resumed soon.

Libya holds Africa’s largest crude reserves, but 11 years of conflict in the country since the 2011 ouster of ruler Muammar Gaddafi has hobbled production and exports.

Tension has mounted in Libya since parliament last month gave confidence to a new government headed by Bashagha, a former interior minister, while Dbeibeh insists on remaining at his post.

Hüseyin Demir

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