Cairo- The struggle for oil fields in Libya started taking on a higher note on Wednesday, after the national army announcing the abortion of two attacks launched against oil wells.
Six Western countries including Britain, the United States and France expressed concerns about mounting tensions around the key Libyan oil terminal of Zueitina.
Libya’s national army announced confronting an ISIS-launched offensive against En-Naga oil field, and also averted militiamen attempting to advance towards an oil terminal located southeastern Zella.
Military sources said that two secret operations members were killed, while another six ISIS gunmen- most of who are of Egyptian provenance- were reported dead during the clashes.
Naga oil field had undergone a series of attacks from armed militias after the secret service assigned for its protection was withdrawn.
In a call also backed by Germany, Italy and Spain, the countries urged that control of all oil facilities in Libya “be transferred unconditionally and without preconditions or delay back to the legitimate national authorities”, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
The statement called for “all parties to refrain from hostilities and avoid any action that could damage or disrupt Libya’s energy infrastructure”.
The six countries expressed particular concern about “reports of increasing tension” near Zueitina, one of Libya’s largest oil facilities on the Mediterranean coast about 80 km southwest Benghazi.
The common statement concluded that it is to the best interest of all Libyans is to support all efforts spent by the GNA, stressing the necessity of resuming oil export.
“Restoring oil exports is vital to generating revenues that can provide for the essential needs of the Libyan people, including electricity, healthcare, and infrastructure,” they said in the statement.
Libya’s oil sector, the country’s main source of income, is managed by the National Oil Company which is split into two rival branches.
The main branch is based in the capital Tripoli and allied to the GNA, but its rival in the east has so far refused to cede power to the internationally recognized Tripoli government.
Forces loyal to the eastern government are threatening to seize Zueitina, which is currently mainly under the control of a rival faction, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG). The PFG is loyal to the UN-backed government.
For his part GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said that his country needs no foreign boots on the grounds to fight ISIS. Speaking to Italian Journal Corriere Della Sera, Sarraj said that his administration had only demanded the backing of U.S. airpower to conduct strictly surgical air attacks in cooperation with national forces.
Moreover, Sarraj added that he could soon be visiting Russia, to reevaluate ties with Moscow.