TRIPOLI, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- The National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya's UN-backed government on Monday announced shutting down a local refinery in western Libya because of the closure of the southern Sharara oil field.
"NOC confirms that it was forced to shut down the Zawiya refinery on Feb. 8 as a result of a valve closure in the Hamada region on the main pipeline between Sharara field and Zawiya refinery, halting production of the field," NOC said in a statement.
Shutting down the refinery will exacerbate the problem of managing, importing and distributing fuel and will lead to high costs because of import of additional fuel, the statement added.
"This illegal blockade is creating an unprecedented challenge for NOC to continue the supply of fuel for the Libyan people and the country's vital facilities, such as power stations," said NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla.
Political interference in the Libyan oil and gas sector will have devastating short and long-term effects on the Libyan economy and the Libyan people, Sanalla added.
"This is developing into a true national crisis. Immediate action is needed to end this irresponsible blockade," he pointed out.
Tribal leaders in eastern Libya closed oil ports recently, accusing the UN-backed government of using oil revenues to support armed groups against the eastern-based army.
NOC on Feb. 7 said that suspension of oil exports caused a loss of more than 1 billion U.S. dollars and dropped the country's daily oil production from more than 1.2 million barrels per day to less than 200,000 bpd so far.
The eastern-based army has been leading a military campaign since early April 2019, attempting to take over Tripoli from the UN-backed government.