Libya Industry

Libya’s industrial sector is dominated by the oil refineries, located mainly in eastern and central Libya. The state has made some efforts to develop the other domestic industry, including large state steel mills in Misrata.

The most important industries for Libya’s economy are the oil refineries and a plant for producing chemicals from oil. The country has five state oil refineries. Two are located at the oil export ports of Ras Lanuf and Brega in central Libya, one at the port city of Tobruk in the northeast, one at the Sarir oil field in the southeast, and one in the city of al-Zawiya west of Tripoli. Prior to the Civil War, the refineries had a total capacity equivalent to just under a quarter of crude oil production, but some of the facilities were damaged during the fighting and it is unclear what the numbers look like today. Blockades staged by armed groups have also led to major disruptions.

During the 1970s, the state made major investments in heavy industry to reduce oil dependency. However, falling oil prices and UN sanctions in 1992–1999 meant that many projects were not completed or expired.

Practically all the industry is state-owned – this applies, among other things, to the manufacture of cement and food. The private business sector consists mainly of small businesses, with a heavy emphasis on the service sector.




Young and old get visa-free travel to Turkey

December 15

Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj makes an unannounced visit to Istanbul by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has promised military aid if the Tripoli government so requests. The day before, Erdoğan has introduced visa-free travel to Turkey for Libyans under 16 and over 55 years.

Forces on the way to Tripoli

December 12

Khalifa Haftar’s LNA forces proclaim what he calls a final offensive in order to try to take over the capital. For a couple of weeks he has allowed military units to move east from the direction of Tripoli. If the attack succeeds, it will hamper international efforts to bring about a peace process. Germany has offered to host a Libya Conference 2020.

Cooperation agreement with Turkey

December 9

Turkey and Libya’s internationally supported government sign an agreement on cooperation at sea. The Turkish president is launching joint exploration into the sea areas, which upsets Greece, which believes it is violating the law of the sea and reducing the Greeks’ access to areas around the country’s island world. Recently, the Turkish government has also signed an agreement with Fayez al-Sarraj’s government in Libya on military cooperation.


UN envoy alerts civilian victims

November 18

Ten people die in a raid on a cake factory in southern Tripoli. UN envoy Ghassan Salamé says it may be considered a war crime. He points out that drone attacks require more and more civilian life and at the same time accuse the LNA forces of bombing populated parts of the capital. According to the UN envoy, there is a growing element of war-experienced mercenaries in the conflict.

The US rushes towards Haftar

November 15

The United States calls on General Haftar and his LNA forces to end their offensive against Tripoli, which has been ongoing since April. President Trump has previously paid tribute to Haftar, but after a meeting in Washington with representatives of the Libyan government in Tripoli comes a critical statement. Russia is accused in the statement of taking advantage of the conflict in Libya. Russian mercenaries have been seen fighting for Haftar, but Moscow denies that they have ties to the Russian government.

Both sides receive illegal military support

November 7

Turkey, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have repeatedly violated UN sanctions aimed at preventing weapons supplies to warring parties in Libya. The conclusions are drawn by UN experts in a forthcoming report, which the AFP news agency found out. Jordan must have trained the warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces and the Emirates is suspected to have assisted Haftar with air strikes. Turkey, for its part, must have supported the opposition side, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s government forces, with equipment such as drones and armored vehicles. The report was submitted to the member countries of the UN Security Council in October and is expected to be discussed in the Sanctions Committee, which has Libyan responsibility. (When the report is published in early December, it provides examples of how an arms embargo can be circumvented, for example by transferring warships through private companies and declaring them as pleasure hunts.)


Agreements on migrant boats are extended

October 30th

Italy and Libya have renewed a controversial agreement from 2017, which aims to prevent Libyan coastguard boats with migrants from embarking in the Mediterranean. Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio says in his country’s parliament that the agreement is automatically renewed in November for a period of three years. According to di Maio, 170,000 migrants were transported aboard boats leaving Libyan port in 2016, prior to the agreement, compared to 2,200 in 2018. The minister points out that Italy, together with the UN, is working to ensure that migrants trapped in Libyan camps receive more favorable conditions and that they will also receive more appealing offers to return to their home countries.

Photogen prices are shockingly high

October 16

The UN-backed government raises the price of kerosene for commercial and industrial use. Work on a state budget for 2020 is ongoing, but the government points out that the Haftar forces’ offensive against the capital Tripoli has had noticeable effects on the economy and is slowing down the systemic changes that are planned. Reduced subsidies on fuel are one of the elements of the Tripoli government’s economic policy, which was adopted in autumn 2018 but can only be implemented with difficulty.

Sopberg health hazard in Tripoli

October 3

The municipal garbage collection has ended in Tripoli, whose biggest dump is in the front line on the outskirts of the capital, where fighting is ongoing. Growing garbage mountains and rat invasions are plaguing city dwellers who have started to set fire to the garbage heaps, with smelly smoke as a result. Others collect garbage on their own and dump the garbage where they can access. Environmental researcher Rouqaya al- Hachemi has done a study in the months when the landfill crisis has grown. She has found that both respiratory and skin disorders increase.


The US attacks IS targets in the southwest

September 19

US fighter attack targets at Murzuq oasis in southwestern Libya. According to Africom, the command center responsible for military operations conducted by the United States in Africa, eight supposed members of the Islamic State (IS) terror group should have been killed. Africom states that the council was held in consultation with Libya’s internationally recognized government, which has no control over disputed areas in the south. Nor does the rival Haftar regime, which has its base in eastern Libya, control the south. During the following week, several similar raids are carried out against Murzuq. After four attacks, Africom calculates the total number of fatalities to over 40.

Refugee agreement with AU and UN

September 10

Rwanda is to receive hundreds, perhaps thousands, of African refugees and asylum seekers stranded in Libya. It is an agreement between Rwanda, the AU and the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The journey from Libya for the first 66 people is reported two weeks later; upon arrival, they are registered as asylum seekers and the UN should examine whether they should be granted refugee status. Most of them originate from the Horn of Africa. According to the UN, about 42,000 refugees are in Libya. Rwanda has said it is ready to receive up to 30,000, in installments of 500 so that the situation is manageable.


Failed ceasefire during big weekend

August 11th

A temporary ceasefire between the Tripoli government and the Haftar forces during the big weekend id al-adha, the major sacrifice, is broken by acts of war. Rocket attacks are aimed at Tripoli’s only working airport. The neighborhood known as the Friday Market is also being attacked. The UN envoy has repeatedly appealed in vain for ceasefire. Since Haftar’s offensive against Tripoli began in April, WHO has counted at least 1,093 casualties, 5,752 injured and more than 120,000 forced to leave their homes.

Flying attack against major meeting in the south

August 4th

At least 42 people lose their lives and many are seriously injured in air strikes against a town hall in southern Libya. There was a meeting in the building in the city of Murzuq. Murzuq is located in an oasis almost 90 kilometers south of Tripoli and its tube population is on edge with Arab groups supporting General Haftar (see February 21, 2019). Libya’s internationally supported government accuses the Haftar forces of the attack and demands that the UN investigate the incident. At the same time, the UN envoy has warned that there are more and more attacks on Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, which are used, among other things, for deliveries of aid. In the war on the ground, between the Tripoli government and the attacking Haftar forces, positions have not changed much after the Haftar side’s initial successes. Instead, the combat actions via the air, including drones, have increased.


Boat tragedy outside al-Khums

July 25

Between 100 and 150 migrants, if not more, are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean outside the city of al-Khums, about ten miles east of Tripoli. Doctors Without Borders says there may be even more missing, as the migrants must have been aboard three different boats that had been fastened to each other with train timber. Libyan authorities state that about 140 have been saved.

New ship will rescue migrants

July 21st

After a seven-month break, the aid organization SOS Méditerranée resumes its rescue efforts for migrants off the coast of Libya (see December 3, 2018). This is despite the reluctance of EU countries to open their ports to migrants. The new efforts at sea will be made with a Norwegian vessel – which should not move on Libyan water – and with the participation of Doctors Without Borders. According to IOM, at least 426 migrants have lost their lives this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Sentenced to death by Gaddafiman released from prison

July 20

Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, Libya’s last prime minister during the Gaddafi holiday, has been released from prison for health reasons, the Justice Department said. He was prime minister during the 2011 revolt when dictator Muammar Gaddafi overthrew and killed. He was arrested while trying to flee to Tunisia and was later sentenced to death.

Migrants in disaster at sea

July 4th

At least 80 migrants are feared to have drowned in a shipwreck outside the city of Zarzis in Tunisia. The few survivors, who are from Mali, say that the ship set sail from Zuwara in Libya, a common port of departure for migrants hoping to reach Europe. Tunisia’s Coast Guard has rescued the survivors after alarms from fishermen (see May 10).

Migrants, however, in attack

July 2

At least 44 migrants, most Africans, are feared to have lost their lives on the outskirts of Tripoli when the hangar where they were staying – in a government-run migrant camp – was hit by bombing from the air. The parties to the Libyan civil war accuse each other of carrying out the attack, which according to the UN also injured about 130 people. The UN Libyan Coordinator considers the event a war crime. The IOM organization states that there are at least 5,200 migrants in official Libyan camps. No one knows how many are in the hands of militia and smugglers.


Sharp position between Turkey and Libyan rebels

June 28

General Haftar’s rebel forces lose the city of Gharyan south of Tripoli and target part of the anger against Turkey, which supports Libya’s internationally accepted government – Turkish vessels and companies can now become targets. Soon it is announced that six Turkish citizens have been taken prisoner by the Haftar camp, unclear under what circumstances. Turkey threatens to strike against Haftar and the six sailors are released on July 1.

Religion at retreat

June 24th

Approximately one in four Libyans are not believers, according to a poll in which more and more Arabs describe themselves as non-religious. The interview survey was conducted for the BBC 2018–2019 by the research network Arab Barometer, which is based at the University of Princeton. More than 25,000 interviewees in ten countries and in the Palestinian territories were asked. Compared to 2013, it is especially in North Africa – in all the countries of the Mediterranean – that religious beliefs have weakened. On average, the proportion of non-religious has increased from 8 to 13 percent.

The government announces a crisis plan

June 16

Libya’s internationally recognized government announces a new political initiative, including plans for democratic elections. Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the government, says when he announces the plan in a short TV speech that the goal is for simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections to be conducted by the end of 2019. Tripoli – to undermine democracy and want to impose dictatorship.

The UN wants to see the EU stop arms smugglers

June 10th

The UN Security Council is mandating the EU a year ahead to resume Operation Sophia to combat arms smuggling in the waters off Libya. The resolution allows EU crews to inspect vessels suspected of smuggling weapons to warring parties in Libya in violation of the UN arms embargo. Since the EU canceled the offshore patrol in March, only air surveillance is carried out (see 16 April and 27 March).

Difficult circumstances for migrants

7 June

The UN states that around 3,400 migrants and refugees are kept separated in camps in Tripoli, and conditions have been exacerbated by the fighting in the immediate vicinity of the city. The lung disease tuberculosis is spread and the food rations of the interned are too small. Many people who try to cross the Mediterranean to Europe are attracted to the sea by the Libyan Coast Guard, who hand over migrants to those responsible for migrant camps in various locations along the coast.


Vulnerable children are evacuated to Europe

30 May

UNHCR for 149 Africans, including 65 minors and 13 infants, from war-ravaged Libya to Rome. Many of them are malnourished and in need of care. Earlier this week, 62 refugees and migrants were moved to a UNCHR center in Romania, where they will receive care before being transferred to Norway. A total of almost 1,000 people were evacuated in 2019

Weapon import and blockade against ports

May 20

Militants who are fighting for the Tripoli government have, in various ways, including social media, been signaling that they are receiving weapons from abroad that will help them fight General Haftar’s attack on the capital. Now the commander of the Haftar Loyal Marine Forces is responding with a call for blockade against all ports in western Libya to stop weapons supplies. Based on images of military equipment unloaded from vessels in the west, he claims that Turkey is supplying the government side with new weapons and armored vehicles; The Haftar side is believed to receive assistance from Egypt and countries in the Arabian Peninsula (see May 2). Both warring sides in Libya can export oil, so access to oil money can lead to the escalation of the civil war.

Life saving is left on fishermen

May 10

A Tunisian trawler rescues 16 migrants from the Mediterranean. 60 others are feared to have drowned. Since the European rescue and patrol vessels have almost stopped patrolling the waters north of Libya, Tunisian fishermen are increasingly picking up migrants on duty. If fishermen take migrant boats in tow to the Italian port, they risk being arrested themselves as refugee smugglers and seized their own boats. Tunisian authorities are also reported to have started to say no to landing in Tunisian ports.

The parliamentary minority appoints its own President

May 5th

A group of MPs behind the internationally accepted government in Tripoli appoints an acting president. More than 40 members, who boycott the parliament in Tobruk in the east and protest against Haftar’s offensive on the west, have instead gathered in the capital. They give their limited term mandate to Sadeq al-Keheli in the hope that he will be able to gather support from more members. But Aguila Saleh – the formally elected President of Parliament – for her part supports Haftar. Parliament, which will consist of 188 members, took refuge in Tobruk in the east in 2014 when Tripoli was joined by an alliance of militia.

Weapons are believed to come from the emirate

May 2

A robot of Chinese manufacture has been identified by UN expertise following Haftar-led attacks on Tripoli’s southern suburbs in April. The robot type is used only by China, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates, which is why the expert panel – which puts forward its conclusions in a report to the UN Security Council – suspects that forces on Haftar’s side have gained access to robots via the Emirates. The robots are believed to have been fired using drones. Deliveries of the weapons system violate the arms embargo on Libya introduced by the UN in 2011.


Italy receives evacuees

April 29

A group of 147 migrants from the Horn of Africa evacuated from Misrata are flown to a military airfield in Italy. According to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, there are 68 minors, including toddlers, among those who have flown out. Italy is ruled by parties that are strongly opposed to immigration, but the UN notes that now, since the spring battles in southern Tripoli erupted, Italy is taking the initiative to rescue people being evacuated.

Rising death toll in Tripoli

April 25

After three weeks of fighting, the WHO counts at least 278 deaths in Tripoli, and more than 1,300 injured. According to the International Red Cross Committee, the battles between Haftar forces and militia fighting on the government’s side are transforming residential areas into war zones. UNHCR has moved over 800 migrants to safer places since the conflict broke out.

Aggravated situation for migrants

April 16

UNHCR has relocated some 180 terrified migrants and refugees to a UN-run refugee camp in Tripoli. About 2,700 others are estimated to be trapped in Libyan camps where they may be affected by the escalated militia fighting in the immediate vicinity of Tripoli. Since Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against the city began, EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini has been trying to persuade EU countries to resume Operation Sophia – patrolling and rescue work at sea with warships (see March 27).

Ten days of offensive – fallen and prisoners of war

April 14

Ten days after General Haftar launched a military offensive against Tripoli, 121 people were killed, WHO reports. Hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes to take refuge, others are stuck between fighting forces. Both sides – Haftars on the one hand and groups supporting the Tripoli government on the other – have taken prisoners of war. Detention forces are accused of recruiting soldiers under the age of 16.

Migrants are flown home from Tripoli

April 11

While fighting rages on the southern outskirts of Tripoli, 160 migrants are flown home to three different countries – Mali, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso – by the UN organization IOM. 16 children and 20 women are among the rescued. Migrants also previously lived in very difficult conditions and the Haftar offensive against Tripoli is now feared to lead to such disarray that they also risk being used as human shields. In 2018, IOM repatriated more than 16,000 voluntary home users and so far this year 3,175.

The UN sets up a peace meeting

April 9

The UN postpones the conference on the future of Libya that would have been held in Ghadames in mid-April. “We cannot ask for people to participate when gunfire and air strikes occur,” said the envoy Ghassan Salamé, who did not dare to enter any new date. The day before, air traffic has been stopped at the airport in Tripoli that has been in use in recent years.

Deadly battles south of Tripoli

April 8

After fighting near Tripoli between forces fighting for the government and General Khalifa Haftar’s army, the government states that more than 20 lives have been wasted. Both sides are reported to have performed air strikes. Detainees are accused of staging a coup attempt. The UN has vainly appealed for a break in the fighting. Other countries and international organizations are evacuating Tripoli employees.

Mobilization in the midst of the UN peace efforts

April 4th

While the UN is trying to persuade the Libyan government in Tripoli and the warlord Khalifa Haftar in the east to cooperate (see February 28), Haftar’s forces are reported to be marching west, possibly towards the capital. Haftar has made such intentions in the past, but now battles are ongoing south of Tripoli and the government is giving orders for general mobilization. If forcible forces take the threat against Tripoli seriously, they can also expect to face other resistance along the way, from militia in the district of Misrata.


AU support for reconciliation process

March 31st

A series of messages about planned meetings suggest that the outside world has increased its diplomatic commitment to support agreements that can resolve the crisis in Libya. The African Union (AU) will host a Libyan reconciliation conference in July. The meeting will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the AU leadership announces after discussing the plans with the UN Secretary-General and the EU’s Foreign Minister (see March 20).

EU patrol at sea ends

March 27th

The EU will stop patrolling with vessels outside Libya when the mandate for the joint operation Operation Sophia is extended after last March. The purpose of the operation is to prevent refugee smuggling. Since 2015, after a series of tragedies involving migrant ships, about 45,000 people have been rescued and about 150 human traffickers have been arrested. The migrants were previously mostly transported to ports in Italy, whose government says that Italy cannot take responsibility for receiving them alone (see July 4 and July 7, 2018) and if migrants are returned to Libya, difficult conditions exist at the collection sites. No other solution has resulted in negotiations in the EU. Within the framework of Operation Sophia, reconnaissance flights and cooperation with the Libyan coastguard continue.

Migrants hijack ships

March 26

A tanker, which picked up 108 migrants at sea, is cut. The tanker is on its way to Tripoli, but the migrants, who absolutely do not want to return to Libya, demand to be brought to Europe. Two days later, the ship adds to Valletta in Malta after being deployed by the Maltese fleet. Police investigation is waiting.

Arms reach Libya despite embargo

March 26

UN expert Moncef Kartas is arrested when he lands in Tunisia to investigate violations of the UN arms embargo on Libya. Kartas, who is both a Tunisian and a German citizen, is accused of espionage. Five weeks later he is still incarcerated. The UN states that it has diplomatic immunity and international researchers demand that it be released. The expert group that Kartas is part of has concluded that both weapons and ammunition have made their way to Libya despite the UN arms embargo.

UN hope for a national meeting that gives results

March 20

A conference with representatives of various interests will be held in Ghadames April 14-16, the UN announces that a “road map” to peace, with dates for upcoming elections, will be prepared. According to UN envoy Ghassan Salamé, the national conference has been prepared through meetings in nearly 60 locations in the country.


Rivals agree to hold elections

February 28

Libyan head of government Fayez al-Sarraj and warlord Khalifa Haftar have once again agreed that general elections should be held, says the UN (see May 29, 2018). Fayez al-Sarraj leads the government in Tripoli with which the outside world cooperates, while opponents of the government rule from eastern Libya with the support of Haftar. In addition there are a number of difficult-to-control militia groups; large parts of the country are in practice lawless. The fact that Haftar’s army LNA has recently carried out an offensive in the south and taken several oil plants is not believed to facilitate the prospects of completing a democratic process.

Many cases of parasitic disease

February 27th

Leishmaniasis, a debilitating tropical disease that can be fatal, has been found in about 5,000 people over the past six months, the Health Ministry reports. The disease, caused by a parasite and spread via insects, is associated with, among other things, poor access to clean water, for example in slums. Skin rashes and ulcers can occur, and a variant can attack internal organs. WHO assists Libya with Indian manufactured medicines.

Tubule dare murdered in southwest

February 21st

General Ibrahim Muhammad Kari, who is responsible for the security of the oasis city of Murzuq, is murdered. He belongs to the Tubu ethnic minority in the south. Libya’s internationally recognized government does not disclose who is believed to be behind the murder, but it is happening at the same time that warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces are taking over Murzuq. Contradictions between Tubos, Arabs and Tuaregs are known, and Haftar supporters have accused Tubu representatives of supporting rebels in neighboring Chad.

Another oil field in Haftar’s hands

February 21st

A force fighting for warlord Khalifa Haftar announces that it has occupied the al-Fil oil field (“Elephant”) in southern Libya, run by a joint venture owned by Italian ENI and state Libyan NOC. Haftar’s army LNA already controls all major terminals in the east and recently entered the al-Sharara field. The warlord allows NOC to continue operations (see September 11, 2016 and February 6, 2019).

Oil worker in hostage frame

February 14th

Tunisian oil workers are kidnapped near the city of Zawiya by an armed group demanding the release of a Libyan detained in Tunisia. The 14 Tunisians, employed at a Zawiya refinery, regain their freedom unscathed a few days later, under unclear circumstances. Tunisia reopened a consulate in Libya last year; the mission had been closed in 2015 precisely as a result of a kidnapping when ten Tunisian diplomats were abducted. At that time, the diplomats were released, while an imprisoned Libyan militia leader was deported to his home country.

Stapler forces control oil fields

6th of February

Warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces say they have occupied one of the major oil fields in southern Libya, without meeting resistance. The al-Sharara field is located 90 km from Tripoli and usually accounts for almost a third of Libya’s oil production, but it has been closed for almost two months by armed groups that want more influence. Libya’s internationally recognized unity government has, during visits to the south, pledged efforts to strengthen the region, but also intends to strike back Haftar, who has control of several oil installations: military field.

Criticism against the EU in an open letter

February 1st

54 aid organizations accuse EU member states of contributing to tragedy as migrants descend into Libya-Italy waters. In an open letter, they urge governments to support rescue efforts and stop sending migrants back to hardships in Libya. Italy and Libya signed an agreement in 2017 to curb human smuggling from North Africa to Europe. The EU supports the agreement and helps the Libyan coastguard (see 2 February 2017 and 10 January 2019). According to the aid organizations, at least 5,300 migrants have drowned in the past two years.


Arms rest after week with militia battles

January 21st

After a week of fighting just south of Tripoli – clashes reminiscent of a wave of violence less than six months ago – clan leaders have brokered a ceasefire between two militia. This week’s battles have claimed at least 16 lives, according to government officials. The Seventh Brigade (a militia from the city of Tarhuna) and a group that calls itself Tripoli’s security force now promise to retreat to their home quarters. They will also exchange prisoners and remnants of the dead. According to AFP, most of several armed groups in Tripoli state that they support Libya’s internationally recognized government, but achieving real control over them is difficult.

UN chief demands protection for migrants

January 10

The Libyan government must take control of all detention centers for migrants, UN Secretary-General António Guterres demands. It cannot be continued that militias sometimes involved in human trafficking keep migrants deprived of liberty, he explains. A report to the Security Council highlights both torture and arbitrary imprisonment. According to the UN report, there are 670,000 migrants in Libya. About 6,400 are locked up in state prisons and “thousands” in the hands of armed groups. Interventions against smugglers at sea and stops for migrant vessels, especially in Italian ports, have led to more people getting stuck in Libya.

Libya Industry

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