Analyst sees ‘rising threat’ to Libyan oil

Attacks on energy facilities on Libya’s coast indicate a “severe and rising threat” and raise prospects for further disruptions to oil supply, warns a risk analyst at JLT Specialty, London.

Especially threatened is the western Sirte basin, says Senior Consultant Ruth Lux.

Islamic State (IS) and affiliated groups want to isolate and control energy assets in the region, Lux says. The groups “already pose a significant physical threat to energy targets in the western Sirte basin” and want to expand.

In October, the latest month for which OGJ has data, Libya produced about 430,000 b/d of crude oil. In 2010, before disruptions caused by civil war and subsequent violence, production averaged 1.65 million b/d.

Lux described these recent attacks:

• On Jan. 4, four IS fighters used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) to assault the perimeter gate of the Es Sider oil terminal between Sirte and Benghazi. The militants killed two guards and set fires at five oil tanks.

• On the same day, facility guards repelled an IS convoy trying to penetrate the Ras Lanuf oil depot, where two tanks were set on fire.

• On Jan. 7, IS’s Libyan arm claimed responsibility for a truck bomb attack on a police training center in Zliten that killed 47 people.

• Also on Jan. 7, the Ras Lanuf area fell under VBIED attack. National Oil Corp. emptied tanks at the site as a precaution.

“These incidents clearly demonstrate IS’s ability to conduct operations well outside its controlled territory as well as reaffirming its intention to actively target Libya’s energy sector,” Lux said.

She reported that IS recently claimed to have captured Bin Jawad, 17 km from Es Sider, and that the Libyan National Army is fighting IS militants in Ajdabiya, 150 km south of Benghazi.

“Should the group begin to overrun Libyan energy installations, something it has not yet managed to achieve, sanctions against Libyan oil exports are possible as the international community attempts to deny IS of revenue,” she said.

Attacks on energy targets, she added, will be limited in scope but carry high risk of damage to facilities and personnel.

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