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Armed Group Shuts Down Libya’s Zawiya Refinery

An armed group has taken control of and shut down Libya’s Al-Zawiya refinery and two oil complexes, demanding unpaid salaries and other benefits, Libya media report. 

The armed group, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), said in a Tuesday video statement that the refinery operators have five days to comply with their requests or face more closures from other PFG members at key facilities around Libya. 

The Mellitah and Misrata oil complexes have also been shut down by the PFG. This latest shutdown comes only a month after the reopening of Sharara, the largest oilfield in Libya, which was shut down by protesters earlier this year. 

The protest come amid an ongoing test of the legitimacy of the interim prime minister of the UN-recognized Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdulhamid Dbeibah. 

The protesters said in the video statement that they “do not belong to any political faction, and refuse to transfer the PFG members to other security services unless they are given their full legal rights”.

"Despite all the officials' promises which all failed, perhaps the latest of which was the instructions of the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, to consider the situation of the PFG and its members, grant them their rights, implement the decisions regarding their financial dues, and restore their full rights, there was no adherence to any of those instructions," the statement said, as reported by the Libya Update. 

The Mellitah oil complex is the only hub for exporting Libyan gas to Italy via the Greenstream pipeline. 

According to the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC), as of last year, the total capacity of all refineries in Libya is around 380,000 barrels per day. The Zawiya refinery can handle 120,000 bpd. 

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On January 3, protesters shut down Libya’s Sharara oilfield, forcing the NOC to declare force majeure on the 300,000-bpd field. The force majeure was lifted on January 23. Protests also closed the field down for two days in July last year following the arrest of an official who attempted to become the head of Libya’s central bank. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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