General Khalifa Haftar, chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA), and his forces have taken control over two of the four export terminals in the Oil Crescent, according to a spokesperson for the LNA. His words were confirmed by a representative of the National Oil Corporation, speaking to Reuters.
The news comes after the LNA clashed with the Petroleum Facilities Guard over the export terminals, which handle Libya’s oil trade. The PFG, which is affiliated with the UN-backed government, is the former master of the terminals, which it used as a means of extortion. The LNA is loyal to the rival government, the House of Representatives, based in eastern Libya. The PFG denied the reports claiming victory for Haftar.
In September, Libyan media reported that Haftar’s forces had taken over all four terminals from the PFG and then handed this control over to the National Oil Corp. Since then, there have been repeated clashes between the LNA and the PFG. At the moment, at least according to the National Oil Corp, only the port of Zeutina remains contested; the rest of them, Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, and Al-Brega, are all in the hands of the LNA.
In mid-November, Haftar’s spokesman warned, speaking to the media, that PFG forces were gathering around the four ports, planning to retake control of them and that a battle was imminent.
Libya currently produces around 600,000 barrels of crude daily and has plans to raise this to 900,000 bpd, thanks to its exemption from the OPEC production cut deal, sealed amid much fanfare last week. This 300,000-barrel increase is actually equal to the cut Russia agreed to make in support of OPEC’s market rebalancing efforts.
Meanwhile, the political situation in Libya remains extremely volatile, with clashes erupting constantly between the LNA and other armed groups, most of them Islamist ones, some of which support the UN-backed Government of National Accord. According to a BBC recap, the LNA seems to have control over the most territory.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.