By James Hopkinson, Director of Assaye Risk.
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This week saw the release of the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, who had been held for over a week having been abducted in connection with the Government’s strong stance on disarming the militias and closing down their illegal prisons. He was released unharmed.
Concerns have continued to grow in the Oil and Gas sector particularly over security and the perceived lack of it, especially in the south of the country. The French oil services contractor, Ponticelli announced that it was withdrawing from Libya for security reasons. BP have been engaged with Nuri Berruien, the head of the NOC and the Oil Minister, Abdelbari Arusi, over security concerns. This led Berruien to downplay the security situation as being overblown and he was adamant that foreign private security companies would not be allowed to operate as in Iraq. This has been the tenor concerning foreign private security since the Revolution but is not necessarily finding confidence with foreign oil companies seeking to either re-establish themselves or commence operations for the first time in Libya.
Finally, it was reported that the leader of Ansar Al-Sharia, Sufyan bin Qumu, was shot on 14th April in Derna, a Islamist stronghold. The reports are of a failed assassination attempt but it is noteworthy given that he and the group remain strongly implicated in the over-running of the US Consulate in Benghazi and the death of US Ambassador Stevens.
Tripolitania (Western Libya)
Tripoli and its environs have been relatively quiet this week given the attempts by the Government to cleanse areas of the city from illegal buildings, slums and militia strongholds. The major news was the release of Mohamed Ali Ghatous unharmed following his abduction over a week ago.