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Global Energy Advisory May 20th 2016

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

The fate of Libyan oil is at a critical juncture. The eastern port of Hariga has been blocked by the associates of the eastern government in Tobruk, who feel they have been sidelined as the powers that be carve up the country’s government (read: oil wealth). To gain leverage, they have attempted, through a parallel National Oil Company, to export unilaterally. This failed. The UN blacklisted the ship and it was turned back. Then they blocked exports from the Hariga port, which the eastern government controls. Earlier this week, the Libyan authorities in the capital Tripoli said they had agreed to unblock the port allow exports again. But in the meantime, it’s the Haftar militias that are in control of the oil fields in the Marada and Zilla basins. That’s a total of 14 fields—guarded by fully armed militias. These militias are loyal to General Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar is an important figure here. He is a former Gaddafi loyalist and one of his most important military generals—until he had a falling out with Gaddafi and exiled himself to the U.S., where he was likely a CIA source. He returned to Libya in 2011 and was a key player in the toppling of Gaddafi. He commanded a rebel force in the east. We didn’t hear much from him after that, until early 2014, when he made a move for control and was a fundamental fighting force against the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia (and also now against the Islamic State…

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