Protesters try to shut Libya's top oil firm Agoco

Reuters, Tuesday 24 Apr 2012

Employees are prevented from entering offices as demonstrators demand transparency and jobs from the country's new rulers

Protesters gathered outside the offices of Libya's largest oil company for a second day on Tuesday and blocked the entrance as they demanded more transparency over how the country's new rulers are spending its money and more jobs for youth.

A spokesman for the Arabian Gulf Oil Company (Agoco), Abdel Jalil Mayuf, said the protesters were preventing employees from entering the building as they attempted to halt work for a second day.
 
"We cannot get inside. They are protesting against the authorities, they want money," he said.
 
The group of 50 protesters, some of them unemployed youth who had fought in last year's war to oust Muammar Gaddafi, blocked the office entrance gate in the eastern city of Benghazi.
 
Their demands, also made at previous protests in Benghazi, included the sacking of Gaddafi-era officials.
 
Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shakmak said the protest was mainly former fighters complaining over payment from the government.
 
"This has nothing to do with the oil sector or Agoco workers or the company itself," he told Reuters. "If this not sorted out by end of the work day, Agoco workers will protest against this."
 
Oil accounts for the bulk of Libya's economy and exports, and the North African country is close to returning to pre-war production of 1.6 million barrels per day.
 
Discontent has been simmering in Benghazi, the cradle of the Libyan revolt, for a while. In January, protesters stormed the headquarters of the ruling National Transitional Council while its chairman was still in the building.
 
The interim government appointed in November is leading Libya towards elections in June but is struggling to restore services and impose order on a country awash with weapons.
 
Agoco, which produced 425,000 bpd of crude oil before the war, acted as the de facto state oil company of the Libyan uprising as international sanctions imposed during the conflict prevented dealings with the National Oil Corporation. After the conflict, it remains the Benghazi-based subsidiary of NOC.
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