Libya’s prime minister-designate Fathi Bashagha has offered to help the UK replace Russian oil in return for help with post-war reconstruction, in a move seen as a direct challenge to incumbent Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
The offer comes as Libya’s has seen three-quarters of its oil production shut down amid protests over the Dbeibah government’s refusal to step down and clear the way for Bashagha to take over Tripoli.
On Monday, at the same time that Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) was declaring force majeure on its largest oilfields and exports terminals, taking some 800,000 barrels per day offline, Bashagha rejected the idea of transferring $6 billion in oil revenues to the Central Bank, controlled by the government in Tripoli.
Bashagha described the notion of such a transfer as “wasting public money and the wealth of the Libyan state in favor of an outlaw government” and reportedly ordered the NOC to freeze oil revenues, according to the Libya Observer.
Bashagha was appointed prime minister by the eastern-based parliament in March, but Dbeibah has refused to step down. The eastern-based parliament holds that Dbeibah’s mandate ended when December elections failed to materialize, and a new prime minister must lead the country through new elections plans.
The two rival governments are now sparring over the control of oil production, which is predominately under the purview of eastern forces, while oil revenues are controlled by the Central Bank in Tripoli. It is this political rivalry that has led to a shut-down of production and exports.
Libyan High Council of State member Abdulrahman Al-Sweihli on Monday accused General Khalifa Haftar, House of Representatives Speaker Aqila Saleh and Bashagha of orchestrating the force majeure on oil production, calling the three “power crazy”. The Councilman also said that Bashagha would not be allowed to enter Tripoli.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Dbeibah called for an investigation into the oilfield closures. Referring to Bashagha and his allies, Dbeibah said, “They were seeking to establish a new transitional authority, and when they failed to do so, they shut down oil exports so they could go on humiliating this great nation.”
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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