Russia's Rosneft calls for Libyan autonomy after striking oil deal

Published March 2nd, 2017 - 09:00 GMT
Rosneft is going through privatization, but remains partially owned by the Russian government. (Rosneft)
Rosneft is going through privatization, but remains partially owned by the Russian government. (Rosneft)

Weeks after wading into its oil sector, and on the eve of a state visit, a Kremlin spokesman said Libya should be free from foreign intervention.

"Russia would like Libya to once again become a full-fledged state after a barbarous foreign interference in this its internal affairs which led to disastrous consequences as far as the existence of the Libyan state and the future of the Libyan people go," Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters. 

Libya is recovering from years of civil conflict after a NATO-led offensive following an uprising against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. This year, Austrian energy company OMV said the political and national security situation in Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, had improved enough to start production at two of the country's larger oil fields.

After meeting with the head of Russian oil company Rosneft in London last year, the director of the National Oil Corp. of Libya said a joint deal laid the foundation for a Russian role in the country's oil sector. Rosneft is going through privatization, but remains partially owned by the Russian government.

"Working with NOC, Rosneft and Russia can play an important and constructive role in Libya," NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said at the time.

Libya is exempt from an OPEC-led effort to offset an oversupplied market with managed production declines. Its crude oil production of 675,000 barrels per day in January is well below historic peaks, but 10 percent higher than the previous month.

Libyan government officials are expected in Moscow later this week. Peskov said there are no plans for an official visit between them and Putin.

"We are interested in the early restoration of strong power in Libya so that the process of restoring the state could begin," he said.

By Daniel J. Graeber 
 

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