On Tuesday, a group of protesters from the Fezzan region in Libya took a drastic step by announcing the closure of the Al Sharara oil field, the country’s largest. This move represents the culmination of frustrations over unaddressed grievances, specifically targeting the lack of essential services, and the ongoing fuel and gas shortages. The protesters are holding the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Libyan government accountable for failing to respond to their demands.
The closure, confirmed through a statement read by one of the protesters at the site, comes after the expiration of a deadline set on 31 December, which was established as a final call for the authorities to address their grievances.
The demands of the protesters are extensive, and reflect deep-seated issues in the region. They include the immediate provision of fuel and its derivatives, the initiation of a refinery project in the south, comprehensive maintenance of deteriorated roads in cities, employment opportunities for local graduates, and a restructuring of the Fezzan Reconstruction Fund.
A particular point of contention is the agreement between the Ministry of Health, and the NOC concerning the Ubari General Hospital. The protesters are calling for its cancellation, and demand that the NOC be responsible for establishing a dedicated hospital for the region.
This shutdown of the oil field underscores the complex socio-economic challenges in Libya, especially in the Fezzan region, which has often been overlooked despite its contribution to the national oil wealth.
This highlights the growing frustration over the lack of infrastructure and opportunities in the region, and poses a significant challenge to the Libyan government and the NOC. The need to balance national economic interests with local community demands and rights has become increasingly vital for ensuring stability, and equitable development across Libya.