NOC declares Al-Zawiya refinery void of armed forces

A general view shows an oil refinery in Zawia, 55km west of Tripoli December 18, 2013. Libya is stepping up fuel imports, with four tankers queuing at one port as the OPEC producer’s second-largest refinery is running at only half its capacity due to oilfield strikes, a senior official said. A mix of militias, tribesmen and civil servants demanding political rights or a greater share of Libya’s oil wealth have occupied several oilfields and ports, cutting exports to 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) from over 1 million bpd in July. The government has struggled to keep the 120,000-bpd refinery in Zawiya operating since protesters in October closed the El Sharara oilfield that feeds it. Since then, Zawiya has runs off existing stocks and supplies from the eastern Brega port, which officials have closed for exports for that reason. To match Interview LIBYA-OIL/REFINERY Picture taken December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny (LIBYA)

After the National Oil Corporation’s Chairman accused the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) of fuel smuggling, the PFG has removed itself from Al-Zawiya refinery, the NOC said in a statement Friday.

On Thursday, Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of NOC accused the commander of Al-Nasr brigade – the PFG unit controlling the refinery – of complicity in the smuggling of Libyan subsidized fuel abroad.

Fuel smuggling in Libya has bloomed recently, in spite of the work of agencies such as the Anti-Smuggling Commission and NOC.

A new armed group calling itself the Anti-Fuel-Smuggling Brigade has also appeared on the scene, stating it will fight fuel smuggling by attacking the tanker trucks carrying oil products to Tunisia.

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