Tripoli, Dec 27 (IANS) Three oil tankers were burned Friday after a rocket-propelled grenade hurled by militants hit them in Libya’s largest oil port in the oil crescent region, according to a military official.
“On Friday, two oil tanks were burned after another tank was burned Thursday by the rocket-propelled grenade fired by militants of Libya Dawn from a boat in the sea toward the harbour,” Xinhua quoted Ali Al-Hassi, spokesman of the military forces in the oil crescent area, was quoted as saying.
Mohamed Al-Hrari, spokesman for the National Oil Corporation, a state-owned company, confirmed the “incident”, demanding to “neutralise the oil institutions from conflict.”
Witnesses told Xinhua the fire and smoke completely cover with areas of Sidra and Ras Lanuf (130 km east of Sirte), threatening to cause environmental disaster in the event of failure to control the fire.
On Thursday, at least 22 soldiers were killed in the city of Sirte in an attack by the militias against an army battalion. Also, fire broke out in an oil tank in the area after it was hit with a shell.
Libya Dawn militias launched earlier last week an operation to take control of the oil crescent area called “Sunrise Operation to liberate oil ports and fields”, claiming they have been mandated by the expired General National Congress.
However, the operation’s leader Tariq Shnena was killed in an air raid after the attack.
Oil crescent area includes a group of cities between the cities of Benghazi and Sirte (500 km east of the capital Tripoli).
It contains the largest oil reserves in the country, in addition to the ports of Sidra, Ras Lanuf, and Brega, the country’s largest ones.
Since Dec 13, the battles have slashed Libya’s oil production from 800,000 barrels per day to about 200,000 barrels, causing a loss of billions of dollars to its general budget, according to Libyan officials.