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Zueitina oil port blockade; Libya


The Zueitina Oil Terminal is situated at the Gulf of Sirte, 180 km south west of Benghazi and around 850 km east of Tripoli.

Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, oil production in Libya had been affected by strikes of workers, unemployed youth movements and political protesters. In 2013, the Zueitina Oil Terminal had to close down its operations several times due to protests. In July, workers of Libya's Zueitina Oil Company had been striking in order to demand a change in management relating to a dispute regarding working conditions. Just hours after they had suspended their strike, armed protesters stormed the facility and took it over. They immediately asked for operations to be shut down. At first, it was not known what the protesters wanted but they were then recognized as being part of a group of civilian unemployed demonstrators who had shut down the terminal several weeks earlier demanding employment. The protesters were said to number less than 10, although they represented around 300 people. When they had asked for jobs a few weeks earlier, an agreement had been reached for new jobs to be created but the group said that they were still waiting to begin to work.

Due to the protest of the workers and the blockage of the terminal, Libya's oil output was cut and shortages of gas supply to power stations were caused. In July 2013, after the incident, several Libyan cities have had nearly daily power cuts for several hours. During the blockade, the Zueitina Oil Terminal's operations were halted, which also caused production at the oil fields that used the port to stop.

By March 2014, the Zueitina Terminal was later occupied by rebel forces and had independently started exporting oil after an assessment of the damage. Officially, the eight-month oil blockade came to an end after an agreement between the government and the occupiers was found. But by 2014, the rebels had seized three major ports in the country.

By August 2015, oil export is still being conducted without regulation and control, bypassing state regulations and the UN Security Council ban on the sale of oil other than though the National Oil Corporation, in Tripoli.

According to Reuters, Lybias oil production plummeted from 1.6 billion bpd before the war to 380000-400000 bpd by May 2015. And, oil facilities being at the center of the Libyan Civil War, they have become the battle ground for armed groups, causing environmental damage. Specifically, there have been cases of damages to tankers smuggling oil.

Basic Data

NameZueitina oil port blockade; Libya
ProvinceAl Wahat district, Cyrenaica region
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas refining
Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe Zueitina Oil Terminal exports crude oil and liquefied gas. The storage capacity of the Terminal is around 6.5 million barrels of crude oil, 988 thousand barrels of Naphta, 240 thousand barrels of liquid Butane and 270 thousand barrels of liquid Propane. The daily production rate lies between 60,000 and 70,000 barrels of oil and condensate, although the terminal itself has the capacity to handle 20% of Libya's crude oil exports.

The Terminal comprises three units: oil movement, gas plant and a marine section. The first crude shipment was exported from the Terminal in 1968.
Project Area (in hectares)N/A
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population300
Start Date13/07/2013
End Date01/04/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesNational Oil Corporation from Libya

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
Informal workers
Trade unions
Rebel armed groups
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Boycotts of companies-products
Armed rebellion


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
OtherMilitary impacts on oil infrastructure
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights


Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Operations at the port have resumed under control of rebel groups. The original striking protesters reached their goal of compensation, but rebel groups took control of the port which is occasionally open to oil exports without proper environmental control and regulation.

Sources and Materials


KPMG (2013), Oil and Gas in Africa, Africa's Reserves, Potential and Prospects,


Libya's Zueitina port stormed hours after strike ends, by Ghaith Shennib and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Reuters, 16 July 2013,

Libyan oil port 'stormed by armed protesters', Aljazeera, 17 July 2013,

Protest halts Libyan port's oil exports for sixth day, by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Reuters, 22 July 2013,

Libyan oil port Zueitina to re-open after damage assessed, by Ayan Al-Warfalli, Reuters, 27 April 2014,

Libya Ends Suspension of Crude Loadings From Zueitina Terminal, by Grant Smith and Saleh Sarrar, Bloomberg, 28 April 2014,

Zueitina Oil Company, official homepage,

Armed protesters in Libya export oil, escalate blockade

Tanker at Libya's Zueitina port lifting oil; new crude flows still blocked

Discounts fail to lure oil buyers as Libya seeks to bypass Tripoli

Other Documents

The entrance to Zueitina oil terminal about 75 miles west of Benghazi, Libya on July 18, 2013. Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Meta Information

Last update05/09/2015



The entrance to Zueitina oil terminal about 75 miles west of Benghazi, Libya on July 18, 2013.

Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters