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Eastern NOC Strengthens Hold On Oil Crescent

Crude oil pipeline

All oil export revenues from Libya’s Oil Crescent will be sent to a central bank in the eastern part of the country, according to eastern Libyan officials quoted by Reuters during a ceremony to mark the official taking of control over the eastern oil terminals.

“We undertake that the money won’t go to someone shorn of legitimacy,” the head of the eastern National Oil Corporation said at the ceremony. “We have a central bank in (the eastern town of) Bayda, and it is recognized by the Libyan parliament,” Faraj Said added.

The official, who heads the Benghazi-based NOC affiliated with the eastern Libyan government but unrecognized by the Tripoli-based NOC that has been responsible for oil exports until now, referred to the central bank in Tripoli as lacking legitimacy in handling oil exports.

The two NOCs have been vying for control over Libya’s oil riches for years. At one point, they agreed to start working together to make the best of the resources, but the agreement did not last long. Now, the eastern NOC has had the opportunity to seize the Oil Crescent thanks to the Libyan national Army, an eastern government-affiliated militia that wrested control over the oil ports from the Petroleum Facilities Guard two years ago.

At the time, the LNA handed control to the Tripoli NOC. But this time, after two weeks of fighting with several other armed groups, the army decided to give control of the ports to the eastern NOC.

Related: Power Grab In Libya Threatens Oil Industry

The Tripoli NOC, meanwhile, has called on buyers of Libyan oil to avoid doing business with the Benghazi company, saying it was the only legitimate state oil company, affiliated with the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, that could sell Libyan oil.

As the saga continues, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the LNA and the eastern NOC to return control of the Oil Crescent to “the recognized Libyan authorities.”

According to the eastern government, however, the oil revenues would from now on go to the eastern central bank because until now, it had been going to “militias and extremist groups”.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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