By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 21 January 2016:
Four more oil tanks and a stretch of pipeline were set ablaze today as at dawn . . .[restrict]IS renewed its assault of the oil export terminal at Ras Lanuf.
Tripoli NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla has described the resulting inferno in which as much as three million barrels of oil could be alight as a disaster.
He said that four tanks were burning in the tank farm. Firemen have been unable to get through the fighting between IS and the Petroleum Facilities Guards of Ibrahim Jadhran. Thus for much of the day the conflagration in tanks 5, 9. 10 and 12 has raged unchecked. The situation said Sanalla was “catastrophic”.
He is particularly angry because after the first IS attack on 4 January, NOC hired a Greek tanker to lift 490,000 barrels from the oil that remained in the tank farm. Ras Lanuf, along with the other export terminals at Sidra, Brega and Zuetina has been shut for much of the last two years on Jadhran’s orders.
Even though NOC argued that the circumstances were now exceptional, Jadhran refused to lift his blockade on the port. As a result millions of dollars of crude has been burning away today creating a massive black pall of smoke and what Sanalla has described as an environmental disaster. Locals are reported to be suffering severe breathing difficulties.
Details of the new IS onslaught are still sketchy nor is it clear what has happened to PFG troops in Sidra, the largely destroyed terminal to the west of Ras Lanuf. The terrorists bypassed this to the south when they launched in their first attack on Ras.
Not only has IS ignited four storage tanks today but they also appear to have hit a large section of oil pipeline which is also ablaze.
It is unclear if the PFG was able to repel the attack. After the 4 January assault, which began with a suicide attack on Sidra’s main checkpoint, Jadhran’s forces claimed to have beaten off the onslaught with the loss of their own 18 men. However IS published a picture, which did not appear to have been manipulated, which showed a heavily-armed terrorist right beside an undamaged tank in what it claimed was the Sidra tank farm complex. [/restrict]