Libya oil firm accuses east-based army of firing heavy shots in oil port

A military vehicle drives through the Tripoli airport. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
A military vehicle drives through the Tripoli airport. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

The state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) of the UN-backed Libyan government on Friday accused the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) of the east-based army of firing heavy shots inside an oil port.

“The NOC today renewed its call for immediate and unconditional demilitarization of all oil facilities after military personnel fired live rounds and heavy weapons in Ras Lanuf port,” the NOC said in a statement, adding that “the presence of forces including mercenaries who lack any kind of discipline are a true threat to NOC workers and facilities all over Libya.”

The PFG on Friday delayed entry of a Comoros-registered vessel into the port for a few hours by “firing live rounds and rocket propelled grenade shells in an area where dangerous and highly flammable materials are stored,” the statement said.

Confirming no casualties were caused by the heavy firing, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla called on all sides and the international community to support immediate demilitarization in all petroleum facilities in Libya, as well as the replacement of the PFG.

“This is the latest in a series of failures of the so-called PFG. They have once again shown their utter lack of professionalism, and the rule of law,” he said.

The east-based army has been occupying oilfields and ports and blocking oil production, demanding transparency in distributing oil revenues.

Both Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and speaker of the east-based house of representatives Aguila Saleh have recently called for a ceasefire in the country, and a reopening of the country’s oilfields and ports.

Libya has been plagued by escalating violence and political instability ever since the fall of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.