Libyan naval and coast guard forces have begun patrolling three eastern oil terminals to prevent illegal sales of Libyan oil the, country’s Ministry of Defense announced this week.
The move comes amidst an ongoing labor dispute with striking oil workers and government allegations that gangs of armed security guards are attempting to sell oil illegally, according to several press reports.
Video emerged on Thursday of alleged Libyan troops firing on an oil tanker, according to a Friday report from The Wall Street Journal.
The video shows troops armed with AK-47 and rocket propelled grenades firing near the Liberian-flagged tanker A Whale belonging to the Taiwan-based TMT Group.
The ship was bound for the Libyan oil terminal at Es Sidir, according to MarineTraffic.com, as of early Friday afternoon.
The emergence of the video follows an Aug. 21, statement from the Libyan armed forces that said it had informed international shipping companies contracts not through Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC), according to a report in Libya’s state news service LANA.
According to LANA, Libyan naval forces interdicted A Whale on Aug. 19.
The blockade will be enforced by “the landing ship Ibn Ouf , the Combattante II-class fast missile craft Shafaq and the patrol boat Al-Sadada , as well as two coastguard boats,” according to a Friday report from Jane’s Defence Weekly.
The NOC declared force majeure from contracts from the eastern terminals, relieving the NOC of responsibility from contract breaches resulting from the current standoff.
“Senior government officials have claimed that the strikes are being orchestrated by federalists who want more independence for the east and that they are trying to finance their cause by illegally selling the oil stored at the terminals,” according to Jane’s.
The oil workers protest has been ongoing since late July.