Libya, incursion into Eni’s Mellitah plant to raise the price of “protection”


A series of raids by armed militias in Tripolitania’s oil plants are slowing the return to normal production in Libya. This morning a militia from the town of Zwara entered the Mellitah plant of the “Mellitah Oil & Gas”, the joint venture between Eni and the Libyan Noc. Mellitah is on the coast, in the direction of Tunisia: from that plant the “Green Stream” pipeline is plunged into the sea, which transports gas from southern Libya to Sicily.

According to Libyan and Western sources, the raid was decided by the militia in charge of ensuring the security of the site from the outside: the militants entered the area of ​​the plant with weapons, where only Libyan and non-Italian technicians are present, asking to raise the price of the protection that the group offers to society. The militiamen have threatened to close the devices that allow the gas to be compressed in the pipeline to Italy. The dispute would have been resolved after what Western sources call a “trade deal”.



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Such raids have been reported in two other large Libyan oil plants. In the maxi-deposit of Sharara (300 thousand barrels of oil a day when it is fully operational) and in that of El Feel (80 thousand barrels), some armed groups entered and left with the same type of requests. The Tripoli government, which has just regained weak control on the coast towards Tunisia and on some areas of Fezzan, has no way to impose its will on these local militias and therefore is forced to submit to the imposition of shredding by of the same brigades who then defend the wells.


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Among other things, some information sites close to General Khalifa Haftar have interpreted the raid on Mellitah as a reaction to the agreement between Italy and Greece on the delimitation of the maritime areas that Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio signed yesterday in Athens. Nobody in Libya believes this version, also because the Zwara militia simply after bargaining the new price has resumed its role outside the plant.

In other cases, the Libyan NOC has made it known that in Sharara “the crime was committed on the evening of Monday 8 June by an armed group from Sebha (an area still under the influence of Haftar), which stormed the Sharara oil field and aimed weapons against unarmed civilian employees, forcing them to stop production in the field at dawn on Tuesday 9 June, just three days after production resumed. ” According to the Nova agency, which picks up information from the NOC, the perpetrators of the assault are the so-called “general” Mohamed Khalifa, commander of the self-proclaimed “Guards of oil plants in the South”, and Ahmed Ibrahim bin Nayel.


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Work in Sharara would then resume on Tuesday, yesterday afternoon: the recovery was possible thanks to the mediation of the chief tribes of the Ubari region. Meanwhile, the president of the NOC, Mustafa Sanallah, has launched an appeal to the international community to “punish the perpetrators of these criminal behaviors” that could push international companies to seek “other options” to operate in the country. Sanallah adds that these armed groups “threaten Libya’s stability and should immediately review their actions and allow immediate production without any restrictions or conditions, otherwise they will be prosecuted internationally”.

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