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Libyan Oil Crisis Intensifies With Attempt to Remove NOC Board

Libya’s government in Tripoli has reportedly appointed a new board to govern the National Oil Company (NOC), with interim Government of National Unity prime minister dismissing long-time chairman Mustafa Sanalla in a leaked government decree reported by LibyaUpdate. 

According to the leaked decree, Sanalla will be replaced with Farhat Omar Bengdara, a former Central Bank Governor from 2007 to 2011. 

The move comes as Libyan oil remains shut-in and protests over blackouts and a political stalemate intensify. 

Interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who signed the alleged decree, has been at loggerheads with the NOC leadership for some time. This is not the first attempt to remove Sanalla–who has led the NOC for eight years–and regain control of the national oil company in recent times. 

Oil Minister Mohamed Aoun has been embroiled in a political battle with Sanalla, which has most recently led to a refusal to share information among the two agencies as to the actual state of oil production and exports in the country. 

Bloomberg has also cited several sources familiar with the matter as saying that the GNU government has called for the dissolution of the NOC board and the resignation of Sanalla, though the report notes that it is unclear at this time whether Sanalla will comply. 

Earlier attempts to dismiss Sanalla have failed. 

In the meantime, protests are engulfing Libya, some of them calling for the resignation of Dbeibah as interim prime minister.  

The country is now plagued with rolling blackouts as an energy crisis takes hold. 

Libya is now believed to be producing only half of what it was prior to April this year, when the NOC declared force majeure on several oilfields and export facilities due to protests. 

Related: Will A Gas Tax Holiday Help Ease Prices At The Pump?

Earlier in July, the NOC’s Sanalla said Libya’s exports had recently ranged from 365,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 409,000 bpd, which is a decrease of 865,000 bpd compared to “normal production rates under normal circumstances”. 

Dbeibah’s rival, Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed prime minister in February by the eastern-backed parliament, has now set up a government in Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s ‘oil crescent’. 

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Now, with the political crisis taken directly to the NOC, there is renewed cause for concern of a civil war. 

By Josh Owens for Oilprice.com 

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