BENGHAZI: Rival Libyan forces clashed around the El-Feel 70,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) oilfield on Wednesday but there were no reports of damage or casualties and production was unaffected, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and a field engineer said.
“We ask combatants to halt operations around the field,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement. “Any escalation in violence may lead to staff being evacuated and production being shut down.”
An engineer at the field said the clashes were between oil facilities guards led by commander Ali Kanna, who is aligned with the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, and forces linked to Khalifa Haftar, a commander based in the east.
Libya’s oil production has been repeatedly disrupted in recent years by conflict and blockades but is currently relatively stable at about 1.25 million bpd.
Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival military and political camps based in Tripoli and the east. Haftar controls most of the country’s oil fields and facilities but oil revenues are controlled by the central bank in Tripoli.
El-Feel is operated by Mellitah Oil and Gas, a joint venture between the NOC and Italy’s Eni. The engineer at the southwestern field said production had not been affected by the clashes and stood at 70,000 barrels per day.
A statement carried on the Facebook page of the military council of the southern city of Sabha said the forces aligned with the Tripoli government had taken control of El-Feel.
Some members of the forces posted videos or photos on social media appearing to show them at the field.
There was no immediate comment from Haftar’s forces, which have controlled El-Feel and the nearby El-Sharara oilfield
In April, Haftar’s forces launched an offensive to capture Tripoli. The campaign quickly stalled, though fighting between rival forces continues on the outskirts of the capital.