By Jamal Adel.
Kufra, 8 November 2014:
The Misratan-led Third Forces with the support of Tuaregs troops took over the Sharara oilfield yesterday . . .[restrict]evening, forcing out the Tebu and Zintani Petroleum Facilities Guards who had been protecting the site.
“Third Forces have entered the filed and now they are in control the Sharara,” Zintani PFG oilfield commander Abdulhamed Karir told the Libya Herald. He said the Misratan-Led third forces had moved in from Gharefa, some 30 kilometres near Obari.
“They entered in collusion with the Tuareg PFG who were part of the forces at Sharara,” he said, adding that the Tuaregs in question had earlier quit the oilfield during the recent clashes in Obari in order to support the pro-Libya Dawn Tuareg militia involved in fighting there.
According to him, the latter Tuareg group are led by Ahmed Omar Al-Ansari, an Islamist said to be linked to the Azawad Liberation Movement in Mali (MNLA) and to Mahdi Abu Hana, an alleged arms dealer from Al-Tayouri district in Sebha.
Several members of the MNLA are reported to have fought on Qaddafi’s side during the 2011 revolution, afterwards returning to Mali.
Just over week ago, Tebus threatened that they would fight the Misratans if the latter attempted to enter the oilfields. However, today, Karir said that Tebu and Zinani numbers in the PFG at Sharara were down because many members had left to join forces at Obari and Kikla and that the Misratans had suceeeded in dividing the Tebus and Tuareg.
“It is pretty obvious what the Third Force are aiming at. They’ve managed to divide the Tebus and Tuareg so they can take over the oilfields.”
It is not known if the takeover has the support of the Tuareg community in Obari. Last week, its leaders announced their backing for the House of Representatives after HoR President Ageela Saleh Gwaider flew to the southwestern oasis town for talks with them.
Today, Karir said that the Misratans were now planning to move to the El-Fil (Elephant) field, to the south of Sharara, operated by Italy’s Eni.
This may be more difficult as it is in Tebu territory, unlike Sharara which is largely Tuareg territory.
Just a couple of days ago, the HoR President was at El-Fil oilfield, meeting with Tebu leaders, in his latest bid to resolve the fighting between them and the Tuareg.
The Tebus are still in control of Checkpoint 17, south of Sebha, which the Misratans drove around a fortnight ago on their way to Gharefa.
It is not clear what the Misratans hope to achieve by taking over the oilfield, unless it is to stop production. Control of the fields does not assure that oil flows to the terminal at Zawia. The pipeline passes close to Zintan, and the Zintanis have already shown that they can turn it off at will. They turned off the valves which are near Reyayna more than once this year. Furthermore, when the oil is exported from Zawia, the revenues do not go to the Hassi antigovernment in Tripoli.
The Sharara field is operated by Akakus Oil, an joint venture between the NOC and Spain’s Repsol. Its capacity is 350,000 b/d but production stopped this week following at initial attack by Tuareg forces. [/restrict]