Libya's NOC reviewed loading schedules after clashes near oil ports

The forces of eastern Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar have lost control of a key oil export terminal they had seized previous year, a spokesman conceded on Saturday.

Rival armed factions are fighting for control over crucial oil terminals in the east of Libya.

Four oil terminals in the area provide much of Libya's export income.

An array of forces, a lot of them loyal to the UN-backed government in Tripoli, have been involved in efforts to oust Haftar from the oil ports, whose seizure enabled him to pose a major challenge to its authority.

His forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), have been battling Islamist and other militias in the area, after forcing them out of much of the country's second city, Benghazi in February 2016.

However, an officer on Haftar's staff told AFP that MiG-23 warplanes and Mi-35 attack helicopters bombarded a convoy of Benghazi Defense Brigades vehicles south of Nofliya.

Libya's oil production has recently been fluctuating around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd), more than double its output last year but still well below the 1.6 million bpd the OPEC member was producing before violence swept the country more than five years ago.

The spokesman for Hifter's forces, Colonel Ahmad al-Mismari (pictured above), said they had lost control of Ras Lanuf's main airfield to forces led by Islamists belonging to the BDB.

After seizing key oil ports, Benghazi Defence Brigades has urged state authorities to take control of the oil crescent region.

A resident in Ras Lanuf said they heard war planes over the town at dawn on Saturday, followed by explosions.

Kobler tweeted on Saturday calling on all parties to protect civilians and natural resources of the Libyans as well as the oil facilities, asking both clashing parties to cease their fire.

  • Leroy Wright