Libya’s largest oil field and a key oil port have been brought back online, though attacks by Islamic extremists have continued elsewhere in the war-torn nation. The resumption of oil flows from the Sarir oil field, which pumps about two-thirds of the country’s remaining output, was a rare piece of good news following renewed fighting in Libya’s civil war and a string of attacks by Islamic State militants. No group has claimed responsibility for the sabotage but Libyan oil officials have blamed Islamic State, which has made headway in the North African country after capturing swaths of Iraq and Syria.
Separately, operations restarted at the Zueitina terminal in the east of the country. The terminal, which had been shut for about a year for security concerns, was scheduled to start loading a tanker carrying 600,000 barrels shortly.
Islamic State’s emergence in Libya has exacerbated existing unrest in the country, where an internationally recognized government in the east is fighting an Islamist militia known as “Dawn” for control. In recent weeks, Islamic State has stormed a French-Libyan oil field, attacked a hotel in Tripoli, and beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians. On Friday, the group said it had carried out suicide bombings that killed more than 40 people in the eastern town of Qubbah, in retaliation for Egyptian air raids against its bases. Attacks continued and days ago the group claimed a rocket attack the previous day on the Labraq airport in Eastern Libya, which is used by the government to carry out air raids.
Recent violence has taken a toll on Libya’s oil industry. Before the pipeline from Sarir was shut down, Libya’s production had collapsed to 325,000 barrels a day, a decline of almost two-thirds since October.
Islamic State’s Tripoli branch also said it was responsible for a car bombing at the vacant residence of Iran’s ambassador to Libya and released a picture of the explosion. The claims were made by a Twitter account where Islamic State’s Libyan franchise has taken credit for previous terrorist acts by publishing videos and pictures of attackers and the killing of the Egyptians.
This article by Benoit Faucon originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal