Libya returns to exporting oil

Al Basra Oil Terminal
Al Basra Oil Terminal

Libya returned to exporting oil, which ended a months-long absence from the market.

The return of exports follows the resumption of oil production, after the removal of the president of the state oil company by one of the country’s rival governments.

An oil tanker flying the Maltese flag, the Matala, was loading at the Al-Sidra terminal, before heading to Italy.

Two other oil tankers, flying the Marshall Islands flag, the Nissos Sifnos, and the Liberian flagship, the Crudemed, are due to load at the terminals in Zueitina Ras Lanuf, according to the state-owned company.

Last week, the state-owned company lifted a ban it declared in April at several oil facilities after tribal leaders, aligned with Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east of the country, shut them down.

On Friday, groups that had been blocking important oil sites in eastern Libya for three months announced the resumption of production and export of hydrocarbons, the main source of income for the country undermined by political tensions.

Since mid-April, six major oil fields and terminals have been closed by groups close to the eastern field, which are demanding an “equitable sharing” of oil revenues.

Production, which is almost entirely exported, has fallen to less than 400,000 barrels a day, compared with around a million in March.

“The new board of directors of Companhia Nacional de Petróleo (NOC, for its acronym in English) has committed itself to fulfilling our demands, namely an equitable sharing of oil revenues (…). We have decided to reopen the fields and terminals, authorizing them to resume production and export”, the members of these groups announced in Benghat, in the presence of the president of the NOC, Farhat Bengdara.

The latter, a banker appointed by decree by the head of government in western Tripoli, Abdelhamid Dbeibah, took office on Thursday, but his predecessor, Mustafa Sanalla, who has been in office for eight years, contested his resignation.

“NOC declares the lifting of force majeure on all Libyan oil fields and ports as of Friday, July 15”, announced Bengdara, who was in Benghazi, authorizing the return of activity in these besieged places in the region. called the ‘Oil Crescent’ in the east, which is de facto under the control of Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The ‘state of force majeure’ allows the NOC to be exempt from liability in the event of non-compliance with the oil supply contracts.

Endowed with the largest oil reserves in Africa, Libya has been mired in chaos since the fall of Mouammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 and torn by divisions between east and west.

Two governments have been vying for power since March: one, based in Tripoli, led by Dbeibah, since 2021, and another led by Fathi Bachagha, supported by Haftar.

According to several analysts, overcoming the impasse is the result of a circumstantial agreement between Dbeibah and Haftar, which had as a condition the departure of Sanalla, a technocrat respected by the international community.

According to Western diplomatic sources, the agreement provided for the reopening of the facilities by Haftar, in exchange for part of the export earnings.

The new NOC leader is considered close to the United Arab Emirates, which supports the Benghazi group.

Dbeibah welcomed the lifting of the blockade, considering it “important that this is reflected in the improvement of the state of the electricity grid and fuel supply”.

Source: With Agencies

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