Libya rebels to 'immediately restart' oil exports

Libya rebels to 'immediately restart' oil exports
Libya's National Oil Corporation said it would resume oil output from seized ports despite US and European powers warning against 'illicit' exports
3 min read
14 September, 2016

Libya will "immediately restart" oil exports despite international condemnation of rival forces who had seized the country's ports.

The North African country's National Oil Corporation (NOC) has welcomed pledges from militia commander General Khalifa Haftar, who led a three-day offensive to capture all four ports in Libya's "oil crescent" for the opposition Tobruk government.

Haftar forces took the last of four ports on this week, putting the country's oil terminals in the Tobruk government's control.

Black gold

Libya desperately needs to revive oil output and exports to stave off an economic collapse.

NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said he hoped for a "new phase of cooperation" that would see a boost in production to 600,000 barrels per day, from about 290,000 bpd within a month.

But any such plans are likely to face political, legal and technical obstacles.

The US and five European powers condemned Haftar's move on the oil ports on Monday, saying they would enforce a UN Security Council resolution against "illicit" exports outside the authority of the that government.

Political turmoil, armed conflict and militant attacks have reduced Libya's oil production to a fraction of the 1.6 million bpd it was producing before the 2011 uprising, which saw the toppling and killing of veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Some infrastructure, including at key oil export terminals, has been badly damaged.


Starting on Sunday, pro-Haftar forces took control of the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Brega and Zueitina from units of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, allied to the Tripoli-based and internationally-recognised Government of National Accord.

The move risks provoking armed retaliation from Haftar's rivals and deepening an east-west divide, fuelling fears of a civil war.

The NOC said in a statement it would "begin work immediately to restart exports", and that all exports must conform with the UN resolution.

"Our technical teams already started assessing what needs to be done to lift force majeure and restart exports as soon as possible," Sanalla said.

"I hope this marks the beginning of a new phase of cooperation and coexistence between Libya's factions, as well as an end to the use of the blockade as a political tactic."

Meanwhile, leader of the UN-backed GNA, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has called for urgent talks among parties, fearing the captured ports placed the future of a unified nation in serious question.

The GNA was meant to replace two competing governments that were operating in Tripoli and eastern Libya since 2014.

While largely displacing the previous government in the capital, it has failed to gain a foothold in the eastern government and parliament, which appointed Haftar as its top military official last year.