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article imageLibyan prime minister orders army to lift oil blockade

By Ken Hanly     Feb 3, 2014 in Politics
Benghazi - Ali Zeidan, Libyan Prime Minister, claimed today (February 3) that he had ordered Libyan armed forces to lift the blockade on oil export terminals enforced by protesters in the eastern part of Libya drastically reducing the export of oil.
Main export terminals in the east have been blockaded since July last year by security guards many of whom are associated with militias who fought against Gadaffi. Zeidan said he had given the order to the army chief of staff to send troops to the terminals two weeks ago. He provided no further details. At a news conference Zeidan said: "Weeks ago we ordered the minister of defence to give his instructions to the chief of staff to move toward the occupied ports in the east, Now the matter is in the hands of the army command."
The protesters are demanding more autonomy for the eastern region. They also complain of corruption within the central government and want a better share of oil revenues. The eastern region has declared autonomy in the Cyrenaica area that had autonomy after independence in 1951.
The area declared autonomy last November and some of the leaders of the blockade attended. Al Jazeera described those involved in the blockade as troops presumably of the new autonomous government who attended along with politicians: They were joined by the tribal leader Ibrahim Jathran, the former head of Libya's Petroleum Protection Force in charge of guarding oil facilities, who defected in the summer and seized the biggest ports Ras Lanuf and Es-Sider with his troops.
Zeidan has repeatedly threatened to break the blockade through force but without ever taking such action. As a result of the blockade of the export port and of some production facilities revenues fell far short of expectations at just $40 billion for all of 2013. During the year, production had fallen as low as $250,000 barrels a day but a blockade has been lifted from a southern production facility and that increased production up to 600,000 barrels a day. However, before the crisis production was about 1.5 million barrels a day.
More about Libyan oil production, Eastern Libya, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan
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