Libya’s NOC to resume oil exports from eastern terminals

Tripoli-based oil company says production will resume within hours and commended Haftar for putting the country first.

Libya oil terminals
Exports from the region's ports were brought to a halt after Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) seized control of the key installations from rival factions in June [Smail Zitouny/Reuters]

Libya‘s Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced the re-opening of four oil terminals after renegade General Khalifa Haftar agreed to hand over control of the ports.

The NOC, which declared a force majeure in July – a legal waiver on contractual obligations – said in a statement the measure had been lifted on the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Zueitina and Hariga.

“Producing and export operations will return to normal levels within the next few hours,” the statement read on Wednesday.

Exports from the region’s ports were brought to a halt after Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) seized control of the key installations from rival factions in June.

Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were shut when armed opponents of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar attacked them on June 14 while the ports of al-Hariga and Zweitina saw their exports suspended on  2 July.

Ahmad al-Mesmari, a spokesperson for Haftar said at the time that proceeds from oil sales would go to the Tobruk-based government through a rival NOC in the East,. 

“All the oil installations controlled by Libyan National Army are being handed over to the National Oil Company [NOC] dependent on the provisional eastern government that is headed by Faraj al-Hassi.”

This prompted the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord to (GNA), based in Tripoli, to refer the case to the UN Security Council, contending that the body’s resolutions were clear and that oil facilities had to “remain under the exclusive control of the [Tripoli-based] NOC. 

‘How every penny is spent’

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said it appeared as though Haftar had been increasingly pressured to relinquish control of the oil installations.

“It seemed like finally warlord Khalifa Haftar has responded to the international pressure on him, especially after the meeting yesterday that was held by representatives from the foreign ministries of the US, Italy, the UK and France.”

The struggle between the rival governments led to a collapse in the country’s oil production, slashing output by as much as 850,000 barrels a day and costing the economy an estimated $1bn.

On Wednesday the NOC commended Haftar’s Libyan National Army in a statement for “putting the national interest first” by handing back the ports.

NOC chairman Mustafa Sanallah additionally called for a “proper national debate on the fair distribution of oil revenues”. 

“It is at the heart of the recent crisis,” he said, adding that “the real solution is transparency. Libyan citizens should be able to see how every (penny) of their wealth is spent.” 

The eastern-based authorities made a similar attempt to bypass the Tripoli government in April 2016 but their planned sale of 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil was stopped by the UN Security Council.   

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies