TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya has made more progress in extinguishing a fire at oil storage tanks at the country’s biggest oil port, Es Sider, that has been raging for one week, a member of a firefighting crew said on Thursday.
Es Sider and its adjacent Ras Lanuf terminal have been closed since a group allied to a rival government in Tripoli moved three weeks ago to try and take them, part of a struggle between former rebels who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but are now fighting for power and a share of oil reserves.
A week ago, a rocket hit Es Sider’s storages, destroying up to 1.8 million barrels of crude and at least two tanks, a top official has said.
“We’ve managed to extinguish all but one tank storage,” saida firefighting official. “Tomorrow we hope to finish the job.”
The battle for control of the oil ports is part of a widerstruggle in the North African country which has had two governments since a group called Libya Dawn seized the capital in August by expelling a rival faction, installing its own prime minister and forcing the recognized premier, Abdullah al-Thinni, to operate out of the east with the elected House of Representatives.
The fighting has reduced Libya’s crude output to around 380,000 barrels a day, state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) has said.
Es Sider is fed from fields run by Waha Oil Co, a joint-venture of NOC with US firms Hess, Marathon and ConocoPhillips.
Thinni’s government had said this week it had contracted a US firefighting firm for six million dollars. It was not clear whether it has arrived yet.