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Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) could declare force majeure on oil exports from several key export terminals in the Gulf of Sirte amid continued blockades and closures of oil-producing and export infrastructure, the corporation said on Monday as Libya’s political crisis continues.
NOC is currently considering declaring force majeure within the next 72 hours unless production and shipment of oil resume in the Gulf of Sirte, Libya’s state-owned oil company said in a statement.
The Gulf of Sirte hosts the oil export terminals Zueitina, Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Es Sider.
The government is responsible for the sovereignty of its institutions, and no individual, minister, or entity should be allowed to politicize the oil sector to use it as a bargaining chip in any negotiations, bargaining, or settlements, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said.
The possible force majeure would come after weeks of protests and closures amid the new rift in Libya’s political class over who should be governing the country.
The most recent rivalry is between Fathi Bashaga, the Prime Minister appointed by the parliament earlier this year, and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who was appointed last year through a process backed by the United Nations. Dbeibah refuses to cede power. Bashaga is now based in Sirte in the east of Libya, while Dbeibah is based in Tripoli.
The most recent blockades of oil ports have been mostly instigated by factions in the east, including such allied with eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA) he leads.
Libya’s oil production has suffered since April, with output estimated at below 1 million barrels per day (bpd), with some reports suggesting it may have been as low as 100,000 bpd two weeks ago.
Amid the political instability, Libyan oil production is also unstable, and shutdowns of exports could occur at any time, further tightening the global oil market, which is already tight on supply.
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.