TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya two biggest oil ports, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, will be able to open once security checks are made as forces backing the country’s rival government have left the area after months of fighting, a National Oil Company (NOC) official said on Tuesday.
The two ports, which can handle a combined 600,000 barrels a day, are under the control of forces loyal to the internationally recognized government based in the east.
“The two ports will open soon, after making security and safety checks in the area and the ports” said Elmabruk Bosaif, the head of the NOC in Tobruk said.
The NOC in the capital Tripoli, which has been under the control of forces loyal to Libya’s rival government since last year, was not immediately available for comment.
The ports were closed in December when fighting broke out between forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognized government and to Libya Dawn.
The region south of the ports is home to several oilfields that were attacked in recent weeks by fighters loyal to the militant group Islamic State.
Tripoli-based government forces last week moved out from camps west of Es Sider to tackle a growing threat from Islamic State in Sirte.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which is holding peace talks between Libya’s warring factions, welcomed the ceasefire and forces withdrawal from the ports area.
“The Mission is inviting the parties to a meeting soon to continue the negotiations, which include interim security arrangements for the oil facilities,” a statement from UNSMIL said on Tuesday.
The United Nations said last week, at the end of the fourth round of peace talks, that Libyan parties needed more time to agree on a unity government which could end the chaos in the North African country.
writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Jason Neely