Libya's NOC accuses UAE of aiding Haftar with oil blockade

Libya's NOC accuses UAE of aiding Haftar with oil blockade
The UAE instructed forces loyal to rogue general Khalifa Haftar to impose a blockade on oil exports in Libya, despite the NOC announcing a resumption of production.
3 min read
13 July, 2020
The UAE allegedly instructed the blockade of Libya's oil [Getty]
Libya's National Oil Corp (NOC) has accused the UAE of instructing forces loyal to rogue general Khalifa Haftar to impose a blockade of oil exports from the country, Reuters reported.

The national oil institution said it was instructed by a Haftar ally to halt production, amid increasing concern over the activities of Abu Dhabi in the conflict-ridden country.

"The NOC has been informed that the instructions to shut down production were given to (the LNA) by the United Arab Emirates," it said in a statement, referring to the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar.

The LNA and the UAE have yet to comment on the accusation, though Haftar's forces on Saturday said a blockade of Libya's oil production will continue despite the NOC announcing this week the resumption of production.

Libya, which sits atop Africa's largest proven crude oil reserves, is torn between the rival powers of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and eastern-based Haftar.

Since January, groups loyal to Haftar have been blocking the production and export of oil from the country's most important fields and terminals, claiming they want a fair distribution of the oil revenues managed by Tripoli.

"The closure of ports and oil fields will be maintained until the demands of the Libyan people are satisfied," said a statement published late Saturday on Facebook by pro-Haftar forces spokesman Ahmad al-Mismari.

"Only one oil tanker" is authorised to load "a quantity of stored oil", as agreed "with the international community and brotherly and friendly countries" that have requested it, said the statement without elaborating, referring to the Vitol tanker Kriti Bastion which docked and loaded at Es Sider port before sailing on Saturday.

The NOC on Friday announced the resumption of crude production and exports after a nearly six-month shutdown due to conflict dividing the country.

Oil exports are the source of almost all state revenue in Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

GNA forces have scored important victories in recent months, regaining control of the northwest and driving out forces loyal to Haftar, who had launched an abortive offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli.

Haftar is backed by Egypt, the UAE and Russia. 

The NOC had invoked force majeure in response to the blockade – a measure used in exceptional circumstances that allows it to be exonerated from liability in the event of non-compliance with oil delivery contracts.

Read also: Haftar's forces set conditions for lifting oil blockade

The company said on Friday that it had "lifted force majeure on all oil exports from Libya".

Earlier this month, the NOC had reported talks, "supervised by the United Nations and the United States", to allow the resumption of production.

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