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Libya strongman's force seizes major southern oilfield Open in fullscreen

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Libya strongman's force seizes major southern oilfield

Haftar's forces already controlled Libya's main oil installations, in the east of the country [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2019

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A force led by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar said late on Wednesday it had seized one of the country's biggest oil fields without a fight.
A force led by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, engaged in an offensive in southern Libya, said late on Wednesday it had seized one of the country's biggest oil fields without a fight.

Ahmad al-Mesmari, spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army, said the force had earlier that day entered the Al-Sharara field, around 900 kilometres (560 miles) south of Tripoli.

The field normally produces 315,000 barrels of crude per day - nearly a third of Libya's overall output - but has been shut down for nearly two months by armed groups, which complain of marginalisation by Libya's Tripoli-based unity government.  

The North African country has been torn between rival administrations, myriad militias and jihadists since the overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord is recognised by the international community, but a parallel administration in eastern Libya is backed by the LNA.

The Al-Sharara field is managed by Akakus, a joint venture between Libya's National Oil Company, Spain's Repsol, France's Total, Austria's OMV and Norway's Statoil.

GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj recently visited the oilfield and promised funds to develop the region.

But NOC had said it would not resume production at the facility until it was secured, including by replacing the local armed groups with GNA-aligned militia. 

The LNA said on Wednesday it had negotiated its entry to the field with the groups on the ground, without giving further details.

The national oil firm did not immediately comment. 

The LNA launched an offensive in mid-January in southern Libya against jihadist and smuggling networks, vowing to purge "terrorist and criminal groups". 

Haftar's forces already controlled Libya's main oil installations, in the east of the country.

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