• Workers were abudcted near Mellitah oil and gas complex
  • Abduction comes after an increase in the activities of jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria
  • This is the second time Mellitah Oil & Gas has been targeted by kidnappers in past two months

Four Italian construction workers have been kidnapped in Libya, according to a statement from the country’s foreign ministry on 20 July.

The four, were seized while working near the Mellitah oil and gas complex, which is located between Tripoli and the Tunisian border.

The abduction comes after an increase in the activities of militants loyal to the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) in the region.

Over the past 12 months, Isis has claimed attacks in the eastern cities of Benghazi and Derna, as well as in Libya’s capital city, in addition to assaults on oil and gas infrastructure in the Sirte Basin.

Security analysts have recently claimed that a training camp for jihadists is located in the same region as the Mellitah oil and gas complex.

This is the second time in two months that Mellitah Oil & Gas (MOG), a joint venture of Italy’s Eni and Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC), has been targeted by kidnappers.

On 1 June, MOG employees announced that a Libyan manager had been abducted, and demanded improved security for oil workers.

Eni is the only foreign oil company that has managed to maintain production levels amid the country’s worsening conflict.

Speaking in a conference call on 29 April, after the company published its first-quarter results, chief upstream officer Antonio Vella said Eni is producing about 300,000 barrels a day (b/d) in Libya.

Before the 2011 uprising, Eni was producing about 280,000 b/d.

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