By Seraj Essul.
Tripoli, 3 September 2013:
Zueitina oil export terminal, plagued by strikes and protests for more six weeks, has been stormed . . .[restrict]by local people determined to get the terminal back up and running.
“Locals went into the terminal to kick the protestors out,” a recently-retired Zueitina employee told the Libya Herald. Two separate protests have kept operations at the port at a standstill, with just two vessels loaded in the last six weeks.
The local people negotiated with some of the older members of the brigades, he said, and persuaded one group of protestors – who say they were promised jobs which have not been forthcoming – to take their protest outside the port to minimise disruption to exports.
The other group, members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) participating in nationwide strikes over pay and conditions, apparently said they would continue striking until their colleagues at other terminals returned to work.
Some gunfire was exchanged when the locals entered the port. Protestors fired some shots in the air, so the local people fired back, the former employee said. No-one was injured in the shooting, he said, because it was directed into the air, intended only to scare people. There was no other violence and no-one injured, apart from one man who sustained minor injuries when accidentally hit by a car.
The closure of the port is having a knock-on affect on operations at Zuetina’s oil fields, no longer able to pump oil because all the storage tanks at the fields and terminal are full.
A senior employee at the port told the Libya Herald that the protests at the port had completely halted pumping operations at Zuitina’s fields. “There hasn’t been any pumping at the fields, including the large field 103, for a month because of the Petroleum Facilities Guard,” he said. “Because we are not exporting, the storage capacity has reached its limit at the port and at the fields, so workers have had to stop pumping.” [/restrict]