Sunday, January 27, 2013

More States Tell Citizens to Leave Post-Gaddafi Libya

More states tell citizens to leave Libya

Sunday, 27 Jan 2013

Germany and the Netherlands joined Britain in urging their citizens to leave the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi over an imminent and specific threat raising fears of more Islamist militants attacks on energy plants and foreigners in north Africa.

The stark notice included no details about the nature of the threat. It came as Islamist militants threatened to attack western targets following the French led intervention to dislodge Al Qaeda linked fighters who had carved out a proto state in northern Mali and follows a deadly attack on an Algerian gas field last week.

This week, Italy strongly advised its nationals not to travel to eastern, central or southern Libya, citing a threat from Islamist militants and a lack of control by local authorities after 12 January attack on the Italian consul in Benghazi.

The attack at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria and subsequent hostage rescue left dozens of expatriate workers and militants dead. It sent shockwaves through the Middle East and African energy extraction industry and alarmed officials in oil rich Libya.

Though Libya's oil industry has been recovering since the US and NATO-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, it had been seen as vulnerable to attack even before the hostage siege at In Amenas. The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused.

The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused. Security throughout the country has been lax since the massive bombing of the country under the leadership of Gaddafi, which threw the region's security forces into disarray by unshackling Islamic militants, forcing well trained mercenaries back towards sub Saharan Africa and releasing thousands of weapons looted from Libyan arms stores.

As in Algeria, many of the country's oil installations are in remote desert areas with little protection and western oil majors have taken a cautious approach to staffing. Some executives have returned to Tripoli, the capital, but companies have been reluctant to send field staff and drilling teams to more remote locations.

One industry consultant said that they are extremely tentative about putting expatriate staff back on the ground. There are just too many guns sloshing around there.

Libya needs foreign expertise and capital to revitalize its economy. The rebound in crude production seen in the past few months has been led by the National Oil Company, rather than the majors.

Analysts say the company has taken shortcuts in the rush to restore production, failing to run thorough maintenance programs and potentially damaging reservoirs.

Libya is perceived as a more dangerous place than Algeria because the rebel forces are weak and disorganized and its nascent regime lacks authority in much of the country.

Suspected Islamist militants have repeatedly launched attacks on western diplomatic targets, including an assault on the US consulate in Benghazi last September in which the US ambassador and three other people were killed.

Source - The Financial Times

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