Libya plans to resume crude exports from seized port

An important Libyan port is now under the control of General Haftar, who is at odds with the UN-backed Libyan government in Tripoli

Courtesy of: AP
Courtesy of: AP

A loyalists to General Khalifa Haftar sits with an anti-aircraft weapon in front Ras Lanouf oil refinery in eastern Libya. The US and five European nations have called upon forces loyal to the general to withdraw from three oil terminals seized this week.

Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said it will start working to resume crude exports from ports recently seized by forces loyal to eastern General Khalifa Haftar. 

Starting on Sunday, pro-Haftar forces attacked the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Brega and Zueitina, taking control from the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), a rival force allied to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). 

Officials plan to load the first crude-oil cargo from the port of Ras Lanuf in nearly two years, filling a tanker with 600,000 barrels of crude.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army and the pro-Haftar head of Libya’s eastern parliament have pledged to keep the seized ports under NOC control.

Mustafa Sanalla, NOC chairman, said he hoped for a "new phase of cooperation", and that production could be raised to 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) from about 290,000 bpd within a month. There will likely be political, legal, and technical obstacles to overcome.

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

"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."

A Libyan oil worker at a refinery inside the Brega oil complex in the east of the nation. Libya’s deputy oil minister said the country’s oil exports are five times less than what they were prior to the 2011 war that toppled longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi.

So far, Haftar has opposed a United Nations-backed government in Tripoli. On Monday, the United States and five European powers condemned his move on the oil ports, saying they would enforce a UN Security Council resolution against "illicit" exports outside the authority of that government.

Libya is nearing an economic collapse and needs to revive its oil output and export. 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 North African country's 2011 uprising. 

Key backers of the GNA, along with many in western Libya, do not wish to see the country continue under Haftar's control. But over the past two years, he has gained popularity in the east, whilst waging a campaign against armed groups and other opponents.

TRTWorld and agencies