Militants attack near Libya's Ras Lanuf oil terminal - sources

Islamic State militants set fire on Thursday to oil storage tanks in a fresh assault on Libya's Ras Lanuf terminal and the group threatened further attacks.
The militants drove into the oil storage farm early in the morning and clashed with Petroleum Facilities Guards before retreating and firing from a distance to set four tanks on fire, National Oil Corporation (NOC) spokesman Mohamed al-Harari said.
A pipeline leading from the Amal oil field to the Es Sider terminal was also targeted, said Mohamed al-Manfi, an energy official allied with Libya's eastern-based government.
Islamic State fighter Abu Abdelrahman al-Liby said in a video posted on the group's official Telegram channel: "Today Es Sider port and Ras Lanuf and tomorrow the port of Brega and after the ports of Tobruk, Es Serir, Jallo, and al-Kufra."
Ras Lanuf and the nearby terminal of Es Sider, both of which have been closed since December 2014, had been targeted by militants earlier this month.
The NOC said the area was facing an "environmental catastrophe", with huge columns of smoke billowing from the fires and damage to power lines supplying residential and industrial districts.
"Residents are trying to build a barrier to stop the oil and fire from reaching gas pipelines and water pipelines, and the main road," the NOC's Harari said.
Libya has become deeply divided since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with political and armed factions competing for power and for the country's oil wealth. Since the summer of 2014 it has two rival governments and parliaments, operating from the capital Tripoli and from the east.
Islamic State militants have taken advantage of the security vacuum to establish a foothold in the city of Sirte, which lies about 200 km (125 miles) along the coast to the west of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider.
NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla told reporters in Tripoli that the Ras Lanuf terminal would remain shut for a "long time" because of damage from Thursday's and earlier attacks.
Libya's current oil production stands at 362,000 barrels per day, he told Reuters. That is less than a quarter of a 2011 high of 1.6 million barrels per day, though production has not changed significantly in recent weeks.
Clashes between Petroleum Facilities Guards and Islamic State two weeks ago near Es Sider and Ras Lanuf left seven oil storage tanks damaged by fire and at least 18 guards dead.
At least 1.3 million barrels of oil were lost as a result of this month's clashes and up to 3 million barrels could be at risk because of the latest attack, said NOC spokesman Harari.
Two weeks ago, the NOC sent a tanker to remove oil from the terminals in an effort to prevent further damage, but guards prevented it from loading, citing security concerns.

The NOC said on Thursday the "intransigence" of the guards had prevented it from avoiding further damage caused by the latest attack.


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