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As Libya continues its descent into chaos with three rival ‘governments’ vying for control of the country’s oil wealth, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), has reportedly shut down production at Libya’s Hammad oilfield, citing salary arrears, a spokesman for the Al-Khaleej Al-Arabi oil company told local media.
Al-Khaleej Al-Arabi is a unit of the National Oil Corporation of Libya and is in charge of Hammad and other oil fields in the so-called oil crescent, as well as the port of Hariga, one of the country’s crude export terminals that have become the focus of attention for both the PFG and the other major armed group in the country, the Libyan National Army, loyal to the eastern forces and controlled by General Khalifa Haftar.
The group kept a blockade on four of the country’s oil export terminals for years after Libya descended into chaos following the deposition of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and only last month released its grip on Sider, Zawiya , Ras Lanuf, and Zueitina, after it closed a deal with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) to renew exports.
In early August, Libyan media reported that the Libyan National Army (LNA) had tried to take control of Zeuitina, but was prevented by the PFG. Negotiations followed between the two groups until an agreement was reached to restart operations.
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Soon after, the UN-backed GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj received a vote of no confidence from the House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk, in the east of the country, plunging the country deeper into chaos just when some semblance of order was beginning to emerge. Opponents of the GNA take issue with the UN-backed government’s alleged dependents on Islamist elements who oppose LNA leader General Haftar.
The PFG’s modus operandi is to seize control of ports and oil fields with demands for financial rewards, as the restoration of law and order in the North African country remains a distant prospect. The possibility of hundreds of thousands of Libyan oil barrels re-entering international markets is equally distant.
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.