Fire spreads at Libyan oil terminal

Volunteer fighters struggle to stave off flames after rocket attack by Fajr Libya consumes increasing number of tankers.

    Fire spreads at Libyan oil terminal
    The national fire department has refused to assist, prompting volunteer firefighters to come forward [Reuters]

    Two full oil tanks have caught fire at one of Libya's main oil terminals after a rocket attack, officials said as the UN denounced attacks on oil installations.

    The rocket was fired on Thursday by fighters from Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn), a coalition of Islamist fighters.

    One oil tank was hit on Saturday, the region's security spokesman Ali al-Hassi said, at Al-Sidra, which is in the eastern region known as the "oil crescent" and home to other key terminals.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement that it "strongly condemns" attacks on Libya's oil installations.

    "The mission warns of the environmental and economic consequences as a result of this violence and destruction in the oil crescent area, and urges the forces on the ground to cooperate in order to allow the fire crews to extinguish the blaze," it said.

    Volunteer firefighters

    Hassi said the national fire department refused to extinguish the fires, prompting volunteer firefighters to come forward to fight the flames with the help of oil installation guards.

    "They are doing their best to extinguish the fire and are working under difficult conditions," Hassi said.

    A technician for Waha, the company responsible for running al-Sidra, said there are 19 storage tanks at the terminal with a total capacity of 6.2 million barrels of oil.

    The source, who declined to be named, estimated the amount of crude lost to the fire so far at more than 1.6 million barrels.

    In its statement, UNSMIL called attacks on oil installations a "clear violation" of UN Security Council resolutions on Libya.

    "Libyan oil belongs to all the Libyan people and is the country's economic lifeline," it said, urging all sides to "desist from any action that endangers this strategic national asset".

    SOURCE: Reuters


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