Political Turmoil Results in Libya Oil Exports' Suspension

Published July 3rd, 2018 - 11:03 GMT
The NOC said that a state of emergency had been imposed at both ports. (Shutterstock)
The NOC said that a state of emergency had been imposed at both ports. (Shutterstock)

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has stopped exporting oil from the country’s eastern Al-Harika and Al-Zwaitina seaports, the company announced Monday.

In a statement, the NOC said that a state of emergency had been imposed at both ports -- following a similar move last month at Libya’s Sidra and Ras Lanuf ports -- against the backdrop of an ongoing political crisis.

“We had previously warned of the consequences of the continued closure of seaports by the general command,” the statement read, referring to forces led by Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar.

The statement goes on to quote Mustapha Sannallah, head of the NOC’s board of directors, as saying that Haftar’s forces had prevented two vessels from onloading oil shipments at Al-Harika and Al-Zwaitina.

“Our oil-storage facilities [at the two ports] are now full to capacity,” Sannallah said, “which has forced the NOC to temporarily halt production.”

In the statement, the NOC urges pro-Haftar forces to allow it to “carry out its responsibilities” as the only internationally recognized authority for finding, producing and exporting Libyan oil.

According to the NOC, the ongoing port closures are costing the company roughly 850,000 barrels of crude oil, 710 million cubic feet of natural gas and more than 20,000 barrels of condensate per day.

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The company goes on to estimate daily revenue losses at some $67 million, also noting that Libya’s treasury had lost more than $650 million since Haftar launched operations last month to capture the Sidra and Ras Lanuf ports.

Last week, Haftar -- who was appointed military commander in 2015 by Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament -- captured some of the country’s most lucrative oilfields following clashes with a rival military force.

Afterwards, Haftar handed over the oil ports he had captured to a rival petroleum corporation instead of the UN-recognized NOC.

The move prompted a storm of criticism inside Libya and concerns among major powers -- including the U.S., France and Italy -- regarding Haftar’s ability to manage the oilfields.

By Walid Abdullah

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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