Libyan gas exports to Italy disrupted due to clashes

Mellitah oil and gas complex near Zwara, west of Tripoli – ENI’smajor facility in is the region – had to stop gas exports onSaturday after the guards of the complex quarreled with a group oflocal militia. The argument escalated into a firefight, and a staffmember reportedly was injured. Authorities at the complex had tostop production, though none of the pipelines were damaged.“Gas exports have been completely halted,” MustafaSunalla, deputy chair of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC),announced on Sunday. ENI, Italy’s largest energy company, isoperating in Libya in a joint venture with NOC.Libya’s Deputy Defense Minister Khalid Sharif announced later onSunday that despite the temporary disruption, work had resumed atthe complex, The Libya Herald reports.Sharif also said the flow of traffic on the main coastal road fromTripoli to Tunisia had returned to normal.ENI’s Mellitah complex produces about 115,000 barrels of oilsequivalent daily, Reuters reports.The gas from the Mellitah complex is pumped through Greenstreamto Gela, in Sicily. The pipeline delivers about 9 billion cubicmeters of natural gas annually – nearly 11 percent of Italy’s totalnational gas consumption.In mid-February, Libya celebrated the two year anniversary ofthe beginning of the uprising that ousted the country’s strongmanleader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.Libyan society has become fractured after the new governmentfailed to make progress in solving the country’s most urgentproblems, like creating jobs and disarming local militiasextrajudicial to country’s authorities.Clashes between armed groups have become a regular occurrence inthe country as local tribes fight to seize control of areas or take control of profitable businesses.Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan promised during a policegraduation ceremony in Tripoli last Thursday that he “will notpermit hijacking of Tripoli or Benghazi or any other city,” andcalled on militias to evacuate their buildings andheadquarters.Newly appointed Libyan Interior Minister Ashour Shwayel reportedthat the number of policemen in the country has reached 120,000,and continues to grow. On Sunday, Al Arabiya reported that RPGmissiles were launched at the Libyan National Congress’headquarters.

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Libyan gas exports to Italy disrupted due to clashes

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