December 28, 2019 / 7:28 PM / 25 days ago

Libya's NOC may evacuate Zawiya refinery due to fighting nearby

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan state oil firm NOC is considering the closure of its western Zawiya port and evacuating staff from the refinery located there due to clashes nearby, a statement said on Saturday.

NOC might also shut down the El Sharara oilfield, whose crude is exported via Zawiya port, the statement said.

Clashes between armed groups have broken out in recent days around Zawiya, during which a missile almost hit the oil complex. Forces allied to Libya’s internationally recognized government on Friday accused eastern forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar of having tried to strike the oil port complex.

Haftar’s forces have been trying to take the capital Tripoli, 40 kms east of Zawiya, in a campaign since April.

Zawiya is Libya’s biggest functioning refinery, serving the capital Tripoli located some 40km east as well as regions in the west and south of the country. Two workers at Zawiya port said the refinery was working on Saturday.

On Thursday an air strike blamed by local officials on Haftar’s forces hit a pharmacy in Zawiya town, killing two people.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he would send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli as soon as next month, putting the North African country’s conflict at the center of wider regional frictions.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Additional reporting by Samar Hassan; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by David Holmes

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