Gunmen attack Libya oil field co-owned by Total: state firm

4th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Gunmen attacked a Libyan oil field partially owned by France's Total during the night but staff were successfully evacuated, the state-owned National Oil Company said on Wednesday.

"An unidentified armed group attacked the field but personnel were evacuated in time," NOC spokesman Mohamed al-Harari told AFP.

Harari said he had no immediate word on any casualties among security forces guarding the Al-Mabruk field, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Sirte.

The city on Libya's central coast was the hometown of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Paris were seeking to confirm whether there were any casualties in the attack but that "no Westerners" had been killed.

"We have been informed that an armed group has attacked the Mabruk site," a spokeswoman for Total said, adding that the company had previously withdrawn all of its personnel.

"Total is not the operator. The site is operated by the Mabruk Oil Operation, which is managed by the NOC," she added.

Since Kadhafi's overthrow in a NATO-backed revolt in 2011, Sirte has become a stronghold of extremist groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, which is blacklisted by the United Nations and the United States for its links to Al-Qaeda.

There was no production from the Al-Mabruk field at the time of the attack because of restricted export capacity at terminals on the coast.

An Islamist-backed militia alliance, which controls the capital Tripoli and third city Misrata, launched an offensive in December to try to capture the export terminals from forces loyal to the internationally recognised government, causing significant damage.

Oil is Libya's main natural resource, with a pre-revolt output of about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), accounting for more than 95 percent of exports and 75 percent of budget revenues.

But production fell to around 350,000 bpd in December when the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) alliance attacked the terminals.

© 2015 AFP

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