Italy’s Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, arrived in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in a show of support for a UN-backed unity government that Western nations hope can unite the oil-rich country and lead the fight against a powerful Islamic State affiliate, according to ABC News.
Western nations now hope that a unity government led by Fayez Serraj, a little-known technocrat, can bring Libya together and combat a local IS branch that has seized the central city of Sirte.
The chaos permeating the country has also shut some of Libya’s oil facilities and terminals. The Islamic State has also targeted the oil fields in its attacks, setting several ablaze. The al-Waha oil field, one of the country’s biggest, evacuated its workers after vehicles flying the Islamic State group’s black banner were seen nearby.
Five oil fields in Libya have been reportedly closed down for low production and security reasons as IS attacks on the installations are looming, The North Africa Post wrote. The total number of IS fighters in Libya remains disputed. At the end of last year, estimates stood between 2,000 and 3,000 but have since increased, Al Monitor specified.
During former autocratic rule by Gadhafi, Libya produced 1.6mb/d of oil, which has plunged as low as 200,000b/d in 2014 and had slowly been building back up to about 430,000b/d in 2015. But since IS attack campaigns on oil storage tanks as of January 2016 production has dropped again to about 350,000b/d.