January 1, 2015 / 10:23 PM / 4 years ago

Libya sees more progress in extinguishing fire at eastern oil terminal

A firefighter stands near the fire of a storage oil tank at the port of Es Sider in Ras Lanuf December 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya has made more progress in extinguishing a fire at oil storage tanks at the country’s biggest oil port, Es Sider, that has been raging for one week, a member of a firefighting crew said on Thursday.

Es Sider and its adjacent Ras Lanuf terminal have been closed since a group allied to a rival government in Tripoli moved three weeks ago to try and take them, part of a struggle between former rebels who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but are now fighting for power and a share of oil reserves.

A week ago, a rocket hit Es Sider’s storages, destroying up to 1.8 million barrels of crude and at least two tanks, a top official has said.

“We’ve managed to extinguish all but one tank storage,” said a firefighting official. “Tomorrow we hope to finish the job.”

The battle for control of the oil ports is part of a wider struggle in the North African country which has had two governments since a group called Libya Dawn seized the capital in August by expelling a rival faction, installing its own prime minister and forcing the recognized premier, Abdullah al-Thinni, to operate out of the east with the elected House of Representatives.

The fighting has reduced Libya’s crude output to around 380,000 barrels a day, state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) has said.

Es Sider is fed from fields run by Waha Oil Co, a joint-venture of NOC with U.S. firms Hess, Marathon and ConocoPhillips.

Thinni’s government had said this week it had contracted a U.S. firefighting firm for six million dollars. It was not clear whether it has arrived yet.

Reporting by Libya team, writing Ulf Laessing; Editing by Bernard Orr

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