June 21 (UPI) — As the U.S. government weighs in on conflict in the OPEC member, military forces in Libya regained control over key oil installations, reports read Thursday.
Al-Jazeera reported Thursday that forces led by Khalifa Haftar “claim” they’ve captured oil depots in eastern Libya. Libya’s National Oil Corp. this week lost some of the storage tanks at the Ras Lanuf port to fires after militants stormed the facility last week. As a result, the NOC said its storage capacity was lowered from 950,000 barrels to 550,000 barrels.
The NOC attributed the attacks to a militia led by Ibrahim Jadhran, who opposes the national army. Late Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said it strongly condemned the actions by Jadhran’s militia.
“We call for all armed actors to cease hostilities and withdraw immediately from oil installations before further damage occurs,” spokeswoman Heather Nuart said in a statement. “Oil facilities, production, and revenues belong to the Libyan people.”
The NOC evacuated staff from both Sidra and Ras Lanuf terminals last week. The loss in oil production is around 240,000 barrels per day, about a quarter of the recent production level.
Libyan oil production has been hampered by conflicts stemming from civil war that erupted in the wake of the Arab Spring movements earlier in the decade. At the height of the civil conflict, the International Energy Agency called on member states, which includes the United States, to release oil from strategic reserves to offset the loss of Libyan oil.
Libya is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and on the sidelines of a collective agreement to curb production to stabilize a market recovering from the collapse in oil prices in early 2016.
OPEC ministers are meeting in Vienna this week to review the terms of the deal. U.S. President Donald Trump has complained to OPEC that oil prices were too high. With support from U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, alongside Russia, OPEC members are expected to put more oil on the market in the second half of the year to offset supply deficits.
Russia is the largest non-member state contributor to OPEC’s balancing act.