Libya struggles to keep electricity on

TRIPOLI, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Libya’s electricity grid is struggling to keep going as a shortage of power and gas for generation and its break up under two governments hit supply.

Residents in the two main cities Tripoli and Benghazi say they have been coping for days with outages lasting 10 hours or longer. Mobile phone coverage in parts eastern Libya broke down this week due to a lack of electricity.

“The network has been broken up in separate regions which has a negative impact, is leading to instability and cases of total blackouts,” Libya’s state electricity firm said on its website.

It gave no details but officials have complained that power plants have been hit or become inaccessible due to nearby clashes.

Some plants such the one in Hun in central Libya have stopped working due to insecurity, the firm said.

Libya had tried overhauling the grid but a departure of foreign partners for security reasons made the completion of projects impossible, the company said, without giving details.

Former rebels who helped toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 now fight for power. The internationally-recognized prime minister and elected parliament fled to the east when a rival group seized Tripoli in August, reinstating the old assembly and setting up another government.

Oil production has fallen to around 350,000 barrels a day, a fifth of levels seen in 2013 as major export ports stopped working in the past few months due to nearby fighting.

Gas output has also fallen sharply since the Es Sider port, Libya’s biggest, and its connected fields shut down in December when a force allied to the Tripoli government tried to seize the terminal.

Foreign firms have become reluctant to deal with Libya. Last week, gunmen stormed the al-Mabrouk oilfield, kidnapping three Filipinos and killing around 10 people, officials have said.

The United Nation plans to hold in the southern city of Ghadames a new round of talks on Wednesday between the conflict parties in a bid to defuse the situation. The mediators hope get the parties to agree on a national government at some point but no immediate progress is expected. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing, Ahmed Elumami and Feras Bosalum, editing by William Hardy)