Libya’s oilfields, under force majeure, may reopen within days, according to Libya’s oil minister, following calls by Libyan prime minister-designate Fathi Bashagha on Sunday after a meeting with various representatives of the Oil Crescent region, which houses the country’s main oil resources.
Last weekend, the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC) declared force majeure on Libya’s largest oilfield, Al-Sharara, along with the El Feel oilfield and two major export terminals, taking some 550,000 barrels per day offline.
On Sunday, prime minister-designate Bashagha called on those in the Oil Crescent region to open the ports for exporting, according to local media reports. However, he also demanded that oil revenues be distributed evenly between east and west.
Hours later, Bloomberg cited Oil Minister Mohammed Oun, who is often at odds with the NOC leadership, as saying that he had also met with tribal representatives in the Oil Crescent and that protesters would allow production and exports to resume “within days”.
Forces in the eastern region, where parliament in February declared Bashagha the new prime minister, control the oilfields and export terminals, while the west controls the oil revenues through the Central Bank in Tripoli. Bashagha is nominally backed by General Khalifa Haftar, the eastern leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA) which controls major oil facilities and which attempted, unsuccessfully, to take Tripoli in 2019.
In Tripoli, incumbent interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has refused to step down and hand over the reigns to Bashaghga, who insists that Dbeibah’s mandate ended after the failure to hold elections in December 2021. This has created another parallel government situation similar to that which led to the most recent civil war.
On Wednesday, Baghagha declared that he would assume office in Tripoli but was committed to doing that peacefully.
Dbeibah accuses Bashagha of orchestrating the shutdown of oilfields and export terminals, while Bashagha accuses Dbeibah of abusing oil revenues.
During his meeting with tribal leaders in the Oil Crescent on Sunday, Bashagha assured representatives that oil revenues would be distributed fairly.
“We have extensive contacts with several local and international parties to set up a transparent mechanism that ensures that oil revenues are not exploited and that these revenues are kept in the accounts of the Libyan state away from political conflicts, so that we ensure that these funds are for the benefit of the Libyan people,” local media reported.
Meetings with the tribal leaders of the Oil Crescent region follow reports of armed clashes at the Zawiya refinery on Friday and Saturday, where the NOC said that 29 sites were damaged, including oil derivatives tanks and others and that damage was still being assessed.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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