Libya suspends oil exports from two key ports

National Oil Corporation has declared force majeure on crude oil loadings at al-Hariga and Zweitina oil terminals

libya oil Ras Lanuf
Exports have been suspended from two other ports, Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra, seized from Khalifa Haftar's group [AFP]

All oil exports from Libya’s eastern al-Hariga and Zweitina seaports have been suspended after operations were halted.

The National Oil Corporation said on Monday a crisis following military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s recapture of ports in Libya’s oil crescent last month has slashed production by 850,000 bpd.

The “National Oil Corporation has declared force majeure on crude oil loadings at al-Hariga and Zweitina oil terminals”, it said in a statement.

Exports from two other ports, Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra, seized from a rival militia by Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), were already suspended on June 14.

That, along with cuts to gas and other petrochemical exports, amounts to a $67.4m per day decrease in Libya’s heavily oil-dependent public revenues, the NOC said.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed former ruler Muammar Ghaddafi, with two rival authorities vying for control.

The LNA recaptured the terminals in June after they were seized by armed groups led by militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran, who had controlled them from 2011-2016.

Haftar’s forces have warned that “no tanker will be allowed to dock” in the ports without permission from a rival NOC based in Benghazi, and said they would hand the installations and their revenues to an eastern administration that rivals the UN-backed government in Tripoli.

But Libya’s unity government last week urged the United Nations to block any “illegal” oil exports and the Tripoli-based NOC said it was the “only recognised Libyan entity” responsible for oil production and export.

“Despite our warnings of the consequences and attempts to reason with the LNA general command, two legitimate allocations were blocked from loading at Al-Hariga and Zweitina this weekend,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sanallah said.

“The storage tanks are full and production will now go offline.”

In the statement, the NOC called on Haftar’s forces to lift their blockade, saying losses to the public purse “since the attack on Al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf by Ibrahim Jadhran is more than $650 million.”

Libya produced 1.6 million bpd of oil before Ghaddafi‘s overthrow in February 2011.

Production fell by about 20 percent after the revolution, before recovering to one million bpd by the end of 2017.

Source: AFP