Libyan oil giant shrugs off fatal attack
All the attackers are killed, and security forces take control of the National Oil Corporation's headquarters
Cairo/ Dubai — Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) will carry out operations as usual across the country after security forces quashed a deadly attack on the state company’s headquarters in Tripoli, the NOC’s chair said.
All the attackers were killed, and security forces are now in control of the headquarters of the NOC, the most important revenue-generating government institution and a rare embodiment of unity in the divided country.
Two employees were killed and at least 10 people injured, said Wissam Al-Messmari, a manager for the Petroleum Facilities Guard.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
"The NOC will not be affected by such actions and we are determined to carry out our mission," said NOC chair Mustaffa Sanalla. "We will continue with our job and our production normally."
The attackers struck a stunning, if symbolic, blow against one of the few national institutions in Libya to have endured more than seven years of conflict and chaos after the ouster of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. The NOC has weathered the emergence of rival governments in the west and east of the country and it continues to pump and export crude oil in spite of sporadic attacks on fields, ports and other facilities.
Sanalla has served as the NOC’s chair since May 2014 and has sought to remain neutral throughout Libya’s political turmoil. The 56-year-old petrochemical engineer is credited with reasserting the authority of the Tripoli-based NOC against attempts by eastern parties to sell oil independently. Under his tenure, Libya signed contracts with international companies, ended a blockade of its ports and boosted production.
Libya holds Africa’s largest proven reserves of crude oil. A member of Opec, it pumped about 970,000 barrels a day in August, an increase of 310,000 from July. Even so, the output level is far below the 1.6-million barrels a day Libya produced before 2011.
The attack could complicate the recovery in Libya’s oil output, though Sanalla insisted that it will not affect the NOC’s operations.