LNA secures Sharara and Obari – Al Marsad

Libya, 6 February 2019– The Libyan National Army has taken control of the Sharara oilfield in south west Libya as well as the nearby town of Obari. In a related development, the army’s general command has called on the National Oil Corporation to lift the force majeure declaration on the field and resume production, now that its security was assured.

Photos from Obari showed the deployment of army units and of no damage to any buildings in the area. Residents of the largely Tuareg town, which was secured today by Infantry Battalion 177 under the command of Colonel Khalifa Ali al-Saghir, are reported to have enthusiastically welcomed the arriving soldiers.

By Wednesday evening, the neighbouring Sharara field was also peacefully secured. A Lieutenant Colonel Aghlas Mohammed al-Taraki of Battalion 173 has been put in charge of maintaining its security.

Sharara is Libya’s biggest field, producing 315,000 barrels of oil a day before it was closed on 8 December by its largely Tuareg Petroleum Facilities Guard and members of the Fezzan Rage movement. Although Presidency Council head Faiez Sarraj flew to Sharara on 19 December and negotiated a deal with the protestors under which they lifted agreed to lift their blockade in return for his government meeting their demands, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla refused to lift force majeureand restart production, claiming that protestors were still present and threatening staff. Since then he has insisted that the field would remain shut until they left and members of a new national oilfield protection force arrived.

Just over a week ago at a conference in London, he made it clear that while he had no objection to members of the LNA being involved in securing the field, he was opposed to the LNA as a whole undertaking the job.

Yesterday, the Presidency Council’s western regional commander, Usama Juwaili, disclosed that forces from his hometown of Zintan were being dispatched south on Sarraj’s order to secure Sharara.

Earlier today, before the army takeover, forces believed to Zintani were reported trying to enter the field but they were not allowed access. However, the man appointed in 2017 by the PC to head the PFG nationally, Maj. Idris Bukhamada, was able to enter and carry out an inspection, just a few hours before the rival LNA forces arrived.

So far the nearby El-Feel field remains in the hands of its largely Tebu PFG, but it is thought that it too will soon be in LNA hands.