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Armed militants, believed to be affiliated with one of the sons of eastern Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar, stormed during the weekend the headquarters of Brega Oil Marketing Company in the eastern city of Benghazi, expelling the firm’s director, The Libya Observer reported on Monday.
The armed group replaced Brega Oil Marketing Company’s director Khairallah Al-Ubaidi, after reports that the manager supported efforts for a political agreement in restive Libya, rather than backing General Haftar’s announcement that his Libyan National Army (LNA) had accepted a “popular mandate” to rule Libya.
At the beginning of last week, General Haftar said that his army would take formal control of Libya, “answering the will of the people.”
Haftar launched in the spring of last year a campaign to take Libya’s capital Tripoli. In January this year, a group of paramilitary formations affiliated with Haftar’s LNA occupied Libya’s export terminals 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.
As a result of the blockade, Libya’s oil production –which had stood at more than 1 million bpd at the start of January – has collapsed to less than 100,000 bpd.
Over the past month, Haftar’s forces have lost some ground to groups aligned with the GNA, and Haftar ordered his troops to halt operations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The GNA rejected the unilateral ceasefire, saying it doesn’t trust the eastern military commander.
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said last week that as of April 28, oil production in the country was down to just 95,077 barrels a day.
The forced restriction of oil and gas production has caused Libya financial losses exceeding US$4.35 billion since mid-January, said the NOC, calling again on “all parties to lift the blockade and re-start oil and gas production.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.