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Libyan Car Blast Injures Leader Who Brokered Oil Ports Takeover

Benghazi car bomb

A car blast in Libya’s city of Benghazi injured on Friday a tribal leader who had helped the Libyan National Army take control over the eastern oil export terminals in September - a move that led to the lifting of the blockade of oil exports from the so-called Oil Crescent shortly after.

According to security and medical officials, the leader of the Magharba tribe, Saleh al-Ateiwish, was wounded but in stable condition in the hospital. Three other people were also injured in the car explosion, Reuters reports, quoting a hospital official.

Although it is not yet clear who was responsible for the explosion, family members at the hospital have said it was an “assassination attempt”, according to Reuters.

It was Ateiwish who had persuaded a faction of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) to give the control of the ports to the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar. The LNA then handed control of the ports to the recently reunified National Oil Corporation (NOC), which vowed to immediately start ramping up crude oil exports.

Earlier this week, NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla said that the Libyan crude oil production had increased from around 290,000 bpd in mid-September to some 590,000 bpd now. This compares to 1.5 million bpd before the blockades on key oil ports initiated by the PFG in 2013, Sanalla added.

While Libya is gradually returning to raising its oil production, it serves up another tricky issue for OPEC to solve in what now looks like a nearly insurmountable problem: that of reaching a deal to limit production within the 32.5 million bpd-33 million bpd range.

Although never officially communicated, there had been a general understanding that Libya, alongside Nigeria, and possibly Iran, would be exempt from OPEC production cuts, with violence and sanctions having taken their toll on those three countries’ oil production in recent months and years.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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