ISIS sends bigger numbers of militants to seize oil wells in north Libya
ISIS have deployed a large group of fighters at several strategic oil fields with fears that the jihadi group is planning a deadly attack on foreign workers.
Staff have been evacuated from three oil fields in eastern Libya as the country struggles to handle the growing threat of the jihadi group.
Oil production in Libya has not been affected because the fields will stay shut until the security risk is reduced, oil and security officials said today.
ISIS militants have launched frequent attacks on Libyan oil fields and terminals in recent months, damaging facilities in Ajdabiya.
However the militant group, which is primarily based in the central city of Sirte, has not manage to seize complete control of these oil fields.
Unlike in Syria and Iraq, Islamist militants have never controlled oil fields in Libya, but officials worry this could happen in the future, along with existing material and human damage.
Mohamed al-Manfi, an oil official based in eastern Libya, said the Wafa field had been completely evacuated and the Tibesti and Bayda fields were partially evacuated after security forces warned of possible planned attacks.
A security source said told Reuters that fighters loyal to Islamic State had been mobilising in Nawfiliyah, a town between the extremist group’s Libyan stronghold of Sirte and the oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf.
Earlier this month five members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard were killed in an attack by suspected Islamic State militants near Bayda field, about 155 miles south of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. The guard is a semi-military force that controls many oil facilities in the east.
Labour disputes, militant attacks and conflict between local communities and armed factions have sharply cut back Libya’s oil production in recent years.
Production currently stands at less than one fifth of the 1.6 million barrels per day the OPEC member was producing before the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.
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