Libyan military forces on way to Mellitah gas plant, official says

TRIPOLI, March 3 Sun Mar 3, 2013 8:47am EST

TRIPOLI, March 3 (Reuters) - Libya's defence ministry has sent security personnel to secure the Mellitah gas facility after it was shut down because of militia clashes, Mellitah Chairman Abdulfatah Shagan said on Sunday.

Mellitah gas exports to Italy, which were halted due to the fighting on Saturday, were expected to resume 48 hours after the compound in northwestern Libya was secured, he said.

"We received a phone call that the defence ministry has sent vehicles which are on their way. As soon as they guarantee the security, we will resume exports in 48 hours," Shagan told Reuters by phone from the Mellitah complex.

He said he had arrived at Mellitah early on Sunday and only its emergency staff were there. Mellitah is a joint venture between Libya's National Oil Corporation and Italy's Eni .