Libya's eastern oil ports are conduits for much of the crude, gas and petrochemical sales that form the lifeblood of the economy
Tripoli (AFP) - Libya is resuming oil exports from its eastern production heartland, its National Oil Corporation said Wednesday after a showdown between the war-torn country’s rival authorities.
The internationally recognised NOC was handed back control of four terminals in the oil crescent on Wednesday morning, it said in a statement, adding that “production and export operations will return to normal levels within the next few hours”.
Exports from all four of the region’s ports had been suspended after military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) seized them from a rival militia in June.
The NOC had declared force majeure on oil loadings at the ports, a legal measure that frees parties to a contract from their obligations due to circumstances beyond their control.
But on Wednesday it announced “the lifting of force majeure” at the Al-Hariga, Zweitina, Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra ports, which are conduits for much of the crude, gas and petrochemical sales that form the lifeblood of Libya’s economy.
The NOC said in early July that the crisis had slashed crude production by over four fifths and cut the country’s heavily oil-dependent public revenues by some $67.4 million (57.9 million euro) per day.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival authorities vying for control.
Haftar’s LNA recaptured the terminals in June after they were seized by armed groups led by militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran, who had controlled them from 2011 to 2016.
Haftar’s forces said they would hand the installations and their revenues to an eastern administration that rivals the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord in the capital.
But the GNA urged the UN to block any “illegal” oil exports, and the NOC in Tripoli said it was the “only recognised Libyan entity” responsible for oil production and exports.
In its statement Wednesday, the NOC said the facilities had been handed back to its control, and added that its board “commended (Haftar’s forces) for putting the national interest first”.
NOC chairman Mustafa Sanallah called for “a proper national debate on the fair distribution of oil revenues”.
“It is at the heart of the recent crisis,” he said, repeating a call for public institutions to publish their budgets.
“The real solution is transparency… Libyan citizens should be able to see how every (penny) of their oil wealth is spent.”