Fires Put Out at Three Oil Tanks at Libya’s Es Sider Port

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Libya's Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni
The Petroleum Facilities Guard is overseen by the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni. Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Libya extinguished fires at three of six oil-storage tanks that started last week at its largest oil port, helping global crude prices to stabilize.

A fresh assessment of the damage at Es Sider oil port showed six tanks have caught fire after an attack by Islamist militias last week, one more than what was previously announced, according to state-run National Oil Corp.

Libya is still seeking international assistance because of possible environmental damage, said Ali al-Hasy, a spokesman for the Petroleum Facilities Guard, part of the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni. Es Sider has tanks with a capacity of 6.2 million barrels of oil, National Oil spokesman Mohammed Elharari said.

“Three fires are burning and three others have been put out,” he said by phone from Tripoli today. About 850,000 barrels of oil were lost because of the fires, he said. Libya is now producing about 350,000 barrels a day of crude, the same level as last week, he said.

Shipments from Es Sider and the neighboring Ras Lanuf oil port, Libya’s third-largest facility, halted earlier this month after the self-proclaimed, Islamist-backed government of Omar al-Hassi ordered the capture of export terminals controlled by al-Thinni’s government.

“The longer the conflict continues, the less likely a quick and full recovery of crude production looks plausible, as international partners will shy away from investing into the country,” JBC Energy GmbH, a Vienna-based researcher, said today in a note.

Rocket Attack

The fires at Es Sider started on Dec. 25 when Islamist militias shot rockets at the port in a second attempt to capture it, after one on Dec. 13. The export terminal houses a total of 21 storage tanks, the Libya Herald newspaper said.

Brent crude traded at $60.22 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 12:29 p.m. local time. Prices dropped 46 percent this year.

Sitting on Africa’s largest crude reserves, Libya has been pumping at less than its capacity since the 2011 rebellion that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule.

Libya’s oil production was 580,000 barrels a day in November, down from 1.59 million barrels a day at end of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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