The following analysis was issued by Dryad Maritime today (21/01/2016). The report illustrates the continuing dangers from the conflict in Libya and its impact upon maritime trade. It also demonstrates the dynamic nature of the situation and highlights the need for all those trading in Libyan ports to keep abreast of developments.
Militants affiliated with Islamic State (IS) reportedly attacked oil installations and set fire to several crude storage tanks near the port of Ras Lanuf, Libya on the morning Thursday 21 January. Storage tanks belonging to the Harouge Oil Operations Company along with a pipeline leading from the Amal oilfield to As Sidr were targeted in the attack. A video posted online by one of the fighters threatened further attacks on the ports of As Sidr, Ras Lanuf and “tomorrow the ports of Brega and after the port of Tobruk”.
Due to fighting and instability in the area, the ports of Ras Lanuf and As Sidr have remained closed for operations for over 12 months. The port of Zuetina was closed once again in November 2015, but became the first Libyan port to be attacked by maritime raiders on 10 January. Although that attack ultimately failed, it served as a warning that IS fighters had the capability to launch attacks from the sea, as well as suicide bombings and long range rocket attacks on land.
Dryad Maritime has warned that following attacks this month on Ras Lanuf and As Sidr, followed by the raid on Zuetina, that further attacks on port and oil facilities east of the IS stronghold of Sirte are likely. IS militants continue to take advantage, whilst the Libyan military, and a coalition of international governments and military forces, dwell on measures to takein order to counter IS’ expansion along the coastline in the Gulf of Sirte.
Today’s attack on Ras Lanuf, accompanied by the direct verbal threat made against Marsa al Brega, highlights Islamists’ intentions to destroy oil facilities and infrastructure in the area. IS, whose numbers have grown from 2,000 to over 7,000 in this area in recent months, as fighters relocate from Syria and Iraq, continue to grow in strength and confidence as they remain largely unchallenged.
Following this latest attack, along with the threat made directly against the port of Marsa al Brega, Dryad’s assessment of the risk to vessels and mariners visiting the port, or of anchoring offshore within sight of land, is raised to HIGH.
Dryad notes the verbal threat that has also been made to the port of Tobruk; however, given its distance from IS’ current area of operations we assess that the threat against shipping there remains LOW.
As with ALL ports and terminals in Libya, Dryad advises against any travel by crewmembers ashore in Marsa al Brega as the risk of kidnap or murder of foreign nationals ashore is HIGH. Due to the ongoing volatile nature of the situation in the country, a comprehensive risk assessment should be conducted to ensure the risks of trading at any Libyan port are fully understood.
The above report was issued as part of Dryad Maritime’s continued incident alerts and advisories service in support of the weekly updated Libyan multi-port risk assessment. Containing both regional and individual port information, the report is aimed at raising awareness and mitigating the associated risks of trading in this Frontier Market. To request the report in full, or for more information email [email protected]