Libyan protesters shut down oil port

Reuters Middle East

TRIPOLI, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Protests have forced a major oil

port in eastern Libya to shut down its operations for a fourth

day, the deputy oil minister said on Wednesday.

Al-Zuweitina Oil port, 790 km east of Tripoli, receives oil

pumped from at least three oil fields in the Libyan desert and

is responsible for exporting 60 to 70 barrels of oil a day.

Omar Shakmak said protesters forced their way into the

port's management offices on Saturday and ordered the port

director to quit working and shut down operations.

"They want the government to provide them with jobs and

believe they can put pressure on the government by stalling

oil-related companies," he said.

A number of protests outside refineries and oil-related

installations have posed a significant challenge to Libya's new

government, which is dependent on oil for most of its revenue.

The administration is still struggling to impose order on a

vast and divided country awash with arms and militias after the

overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Western Libya's main oil refinery has seen at least four

shut downs since October causing petrol shortages in the capital

Tripoli after war veterans demonstrating for more government

compensation forced the refinery to shut down operations.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Editing

by Jon Hemming)

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