Work resumes at key Libyan oil refinery

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 7:37 EDT
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Libyan oil refinery at Zawiyah
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A Libyan oil executive said on Wednesday work is gradually resuming at a strategic refinery in the western town of Zawiyah, following a disruptive protest by former rebels seeking medical treatment.

“All refinery workers have returned to their posts today,” said Imed bin Kura, acting director of the Zawiyah Oil Company, adding that the distribution of hydrocarbons was proceeding normally.

“The resumption of refining will take two or three days, the time to address technical issues after a four-day halt in operations,” he told AFP.

Bin Kura stressed that there will be no shortages thanks to fuel reserves.

Established in 1976, the Zawiyah refinery has a production capacity of 120,000 barrels per day. It supplies western Libya, accounting for about 70 percent of domestic consumption.

About 150 war veterans took part in the protest at the refinery that ended on Tuesday. They were demanding treatment for injuries suffered in the 2011 conflict that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, according to residents.

Libyans often seek medical treatment in other countries over poor conditions at local hospitals. Government schemes that sent ex-rebels abroad for treatment have been cut because of abuse, corruption and outrageous bills.

The disruption of work at the refinery and its port cost Libya at least $30 million, according to the oil ministry. Bin Kura said the extent of financial losses was still being evaluated.

The demonstration had caused ripples in Tripoli, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Zawiyah, with long queues forming at petrol stations and contributing to monster traffic jams.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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