September 12, 2018 / 7:20 PM / in 10 months

NOC says Libyan oil output normal despite attack on its headquarters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s state oil firm NOC said on Wednesday that it continued to manage its operations normally throughout the country, without loss of production, after a shooting attack on its Tripoli headquarters.

FILE PHOTO: Firefighters and security personnel are seen at the headquarters of Libyan state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) after three masked persons attacked it in Tripoli, Libya September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

The attack on Monday, claimed by Islamic State militants, killed two people and wounded 25.

NOC provides the vast bulk of the Libyan state’s income and, along with the Tripoli-based central bank, is one of the only state enterprises still functioning well after years of armed factional conflict.

“The National Oil Corporation has assured all citizens that it has implemented contingency plans to deal with the crisis to ensure that (its) production and daily operations continue on a regular basis,” NOC said in a statement.

“This attack did not cause a loss of production,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sonallah said in the statement, which did not reveal NOC’s current production level.

“However, it led to the shedding of Libyan blood,” Sonallah said, adding that the attack “is indicative of the weakness and fragility of the security arrangements in the country”.

He also said the current security vacuum “allows terrorist organisations to be present inside the country”.

Libya has been divided between rival governments and military factions based in the east and west of the country since 2014, causing political deadlock and an economic crisis.

However, the NOC has continued to function relatively normally across Libya, which relies on oil exports for most of its income. Oil output has been hit by attacks on oil facilities and blockades, though last year it partially recovered to around one million barrels per day.

Islamist militants have sleeper cells in northern cities as well as mobile units in Libya’s southern desert, according to Libyan and Western officials.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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