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Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) on Monday said a refinery in western Libya had been shut down due to lack of crude oil.

NOC said this was after losses resulting from a blockade on major oil facilities and ports had surpassed one billion dollars.

The Zawiya refinery halted operations on Saturday after a valve was closed on the main pipeline between the refinery and the Sharara oil field in the country’s south-western desert.

The NOC said in a statement that the closure “will exacerbate the problem of managing, importing and distributing fuel and will lead to very significant costs to the treasury to import additional fuel to replace the refinery’s production.’’

Protesters loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control vast areas in eastern and southern Libya, shut down pipelines and major oil ports in January, leading to a halt in production and exports from these facilities.

NOC said oil production in Libya reached 181,576 barrels per day on February 6, down from more than one million barrels produced on Jan 18 when the blockade began.

It added that oil exports are the main source of national income for Libya, and the closure has cost the country more than one billion dollars so far.

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The corporation said it is facing “an unprecedented challenge’’ to continue the supply of fuel to the people and the country’s vital facilities, such as power stations.

Haftar, backed by Russia, has been trying to capture the capital Tripoli from the UN-backed government, led by Fayez Serraj, since April.

(dpa/NAN)

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