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Libya's Oil Blockade Could Soon Come To An End

The leaders of groups affiliated with the Libyan National Army have offered to lift a blockade on oil export terminals that started in January and has so far cost the country’s oil industry some $6 billion in losses, the AP reports.

One of the leaders, Ahmed Idris al-Senussi, said in a statement that the terminals were reopened and that his and other leaders’ groups had given LNA’s leader, General Khalifa Haftar, a mandate to renegotiate the restart of oil production at fields shut down because of the blockade.

A spokesman for Haftar said the LNA welcomed “any popular mandate to protect oil installations.”

A group of tribes and paramilitary groups occupied Libya’s oil export terminals in mid-January as LNA’s Haftar launched an offensive against the UN-recognized government pledging that the country would soon have a single government. The LNA is affiliated with the eastern Libyan government.

Soon after the blockade, NOC declared force majeure on oil exports, with Sanalla warning that the blockade could end up costing Libya $55 million daily. At the time, the losses in production were estimated at between 500,000 bpd and 800,000 bpd. By the end of January, Libya’s production was around 300,000 bpd, but Sanalla told Bloomberg it could go as low as 72,000 bpd. That’s down from over 1.2 million bpd before the blockade.

By April, production had gone below 100,000 bpd, and NOC’s Sanalla said losses had reached $4 billion. In early June, there were reports about restarting production at the country’s largest field, El Sharara, which has a capacity of 300,000 bpd. Initial production was to be set at 30,000 bpd, however, to gradually ramp up to maximum over 90 days.

Now, the NOC has expressed hope that other fields will restart soon, amid talks supervised by the UN and the U.S. between Western powers and the UN-backed government. The talks seek to settle the issue of oil revenue distribution between the East and the West.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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