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The War For Libya's Oil

Last week, the Turks were still celebrating a presumed victory in Libya after General Haftar lost territory in and around Tripoli and the National Oil Company (NOC) went as far as to restart production at two giant oilfields--Sharara and El Feel. It was an endeavor that lasted a day, with Haftar immediately responding through his control of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG)--the militia forces tasked (and paid by the Libyan state) to guard the country’s oil facilities.

Production at Sharara went online on Sunday, June 7th, while production at El Feel went online the following day. El Feel, which had been heavily damaged over the long shut-down, started with only 12,000 bpd and was supposed to return to full capacity in 14 days. Late on June 8th, the oilfields were stormed and production was stopped again on the 9th, with the NOC again declaring force majeure on Sharara exports. That was a relief to OPEC--struggling with oil production cuts and non-compliance--if not to Libya. 

What it means is that Turkey popped the cork on the champagne too soon. The Turks and the GNA may have pushed Haftar out of key areas in his push to take over Tripoli, and retaken control of western Libya, but they will hit a wall trying to go much further. 

Having failed to take Tripoli and having faltered in the face of the GNA backed by Turkey, Haftar’s only negotiating power is his control of oil--from production to export terminals. Now that leverage is…


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