The smuggling of one million liters of Libyan fuel to Tunisia was thwarted on Saturday, according to the Fuel and Gas Crisis Committee, affiliated to the National Oil Corporation (NOC).
In a Facebook statement on the committee’s page, the operation came in conjunction with the recently adopted security measures at the Ras Jedir border crossing in cooperation with security services. The statement added that the smugglers were accustomed to illegally transfer one million liters of fuel daily into Tunisia, mainly collected from Libyan gas stations.
About 40 percent of Tunisia’s fuel needs are covered by smuggled Libyan oil products, according to the committee. Fuel smuggling costs Libya more than $750 million each year and harms its economy and society, the NOC previously said.
Libya’s oil sector, the backbone of the North African country’s economy, collapsed in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Before 2011, Libya, with estimated oil reserves of 48 billion barrels, produced 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd). Output fell to less than 500,000 bpd between 2014 and 2016 due to violence around production facilities and export terminals as rival militias fought for control of Africa’s largest crude reserves. No oil was exported from Libya’s main ports until September 2016 with the reopening of the Ras Lanuf terminal in the country’s oil crescent, which stretches along the coast from Sirte to Ras Lanuf and down to Jufra town.
Last month, the NOC said October revenue from crude oil and derived products reached $2.87 billion – the highest monthly income since the beginning of 2018, marking an increase of 73 percent or $1.21 billion compared to September.
The recovery of oil production and exports is key to restoring Libya’s moribund economy.