Russian and other foreign mercenaries entered the Sharara oilfield on Thursday evening to prevent the resumption of oil production at the largest Libyan oilfield, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Friday.
Early this month, NOC resumed production at the 300,000-bpd Sharara oilfield after negotiating the opening of an oilfield valve that had been closed since January. Libya’s national oil company lifted the force majeure on crude oil exports from the Sharara and El Feel fields, confirming the return of production at El Feel, which is linked to Sharara.
But just a day later, Sharara was shut down again, after an armed force had told the workers on the field to stop working. The El Feel oilfield was also shut down days after restarting production following a months-long blockade amid Libya’s civil war.
Libya’s oil industry has been in total disarray after a group of paramilitary formations affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar occupied Libya’s oil export terminals in January along with pipelines and fields. The blockade came amid continued fighting between the LNA, which is loyal to the eastern Libyan government, and the forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognized by the United Nations.
Russia has allied with Haftar’s forces in the Libyan conflict.
Commenting on the foreign, including Russian, mercenaries present at Sharara, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said:
“Libya’s oil is for the Libyan people, and I completely reject attempts by foreign countries to prevent the resumption of oil production. It is noteworthy that many countries are themselves benefitting from the absence of Libyan oil from global markets. Some of them cynically express their public regret for Libya’s continued inability to produce oil while all the time working in the background to support blockading forces.”
“We do not need Russian and other foreign mercenaries in Libyan oilfields whose goal is to prevent oil production,” Sanalla said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
- Oil Market Optimism Is Entirely Misplaced
- Inside Singapore's $3 Billion Oil Trading Scandal
- China’s Oil Imports From Saudi Arabia Jump To Record High