Libyan state oil firm says output down 75 percent due to blockade

Fall caused estimated losses of $256m since Haftar’s forces shut major oil fields and ports a week ago, NOC says.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and 200,000 others displaced since Haftar's forces launched the offensive to seize Tripoli [Anadolu]
More than 3,000 people have been killed and 200,000 others displaced since Haftar's forces launched the offensive to seize Tripoli [Anadolu]

Libya’s oil production has plunged by approximately three-quarters since forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched a blockade a week ago, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) has said.

The fall, from 1.2 million barrels per day to just over 320,000, has caused estimated losses of $256m since the closure of major oil fields and ports in the east and south of the country, the NOC said in a statement on Saturday.  

Haftar, who controls the east and large swaths of the south, began an offensive in April last year to seize the capital, Tripoli, from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Pro-Haftar forces blockaded the main oil terminals in eastern Libya the day before an international summit in Berlin on January 19 that called for the end of foreign interference in the conflict and a resumption of the peace process.

The move to cripple the country’s main income source was a protest against Turkey’s decision to send military advisers and trainers to support the GNA. Haftar has had support from Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.

Exports were suspended at the ports of Brega, Ras Lanouf, Al-Sidra, Al-Hariga and Zweitina in the country’s “oil crescent”, the conduit for the majority of Libya’s crude exports.

The NOC also denounced the closure of valves at a pumping station in the southwest, which shut down production at the major fields of Al-Sharara and Al-Fil.

The corporation made assurances that “fuel is still available in most regions” of Libya, but called for an end to the blockades “to ensure continuing supply of fuel products to all regions and to restore vital revenues to the Libyan economy”.

The oil-rich North African state has been in turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The country currently has two rival administrations – the GNA in Tripoli and another allied with Haftar in the east – while its oil sector has frequently been the target of attacks.

The embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom as well as the European Union delegation in Libya called this week for the “immediate resumption” of NOC operations, warning of the risks of exacerbating the humanitarian situation in the country.

Oil production had already plummeted to less than 500,000 barrels per day between 2014 and 2016 due to fighting and attempts by rival factions to control the country’s key resource. 

‘Truce violated’

Meanwhile, the United Nations mission to Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement on Saturday that several countries backing Libya’s warring factions had violated an arms embargo which they agreed to uphold a week ago at the summit in Berlin.

The Berlin summit was attended by high-level delegations from Russia, Turkey, France, Italy, UK, US, the UAE and others. Participants agreed at the summit hosted by Germany and the UN to push the warring sides to a lasting ceasefire and respect an existing UN arms embargo.

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UNSMIL said the truce – which went into effect January 12 at the initiative of Turkey and Russia – initially led to a “remarked reduction of hostilities in Tripoli … [and] provided a much-needed respite for civilians in the capital”.

But “over the last ten days, numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armoured vehicles, advisers and fighters,” it added.

“The mission condemns these ongoing violations, which risk plunging the country into a renewed and intensified round of fighting.”

The UN mission blamed several countries which were present at the Berlin conference, without naming them.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said a Moroccan man was killed and three other civilians wounded in rocket attacks on the capital.

“The Tripoli-based government has accused Haftar’s forces of committing war crimes by targeting residential areas,” Abdelwahed said.

“It also says that these are violations of the truce agreed by Turkey and Russia and that they are derailing the peace talks that are due to be held in February in Geneva.”

More than 3,000 people have been killed and 200,000 others displaced since Haftar’s forces launched the offensive to seize Tripoli.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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