Fighting breaks out over control of Libya’s largest oil field

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Fighting has broken out over the future of Libya’s largest oil field, as forces loyal to the UN-recognised Tripoli-based government battle Libyan National Army (LNA) forces led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the leading figure in fractured Libya’s east.

Al-Sharara field, 560 miles south of Tripoli, is capable of producing 315,000 barrels of crude a day – about a third of Libya’s total current output. But it has been closed by the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) since December when the installation was seized by local tribes demanding the Tripoli government did more to lift the area out of poverty.

The fighting has the potential to disrupt the UN’s long prepared plans to convene a national conference, possibly next month, that is supposed to lead to either parliamentary or presidential elections and a new constitution. No date or venue for the conference has been set by the UN, which is still trying to win an agreement on those attending the meeting and the broad agenda.

Haftar forces, already in control of large tracts of Libyan oil including in the “oil crescent” in the north, moved south last month in what was billed as an operation to push out terrorists and militias.

An LNA spokesman, Lt Gen Ali Suleiman Muhammad claimed on Wednesday that Haftar’s forces had seized al-Shara oil fields largely without a fight, in conjunction with the forces that had previously controlled the field.

This was later contradicted by other local reports that suggested five people had been killed and 16 injured in the fighting.

Via The Guardian

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