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Political Chaos In Libya Threatens Oil Production, Again

Libya’s Parliament based in the east named on Thursday a new prime minister, while the incumbent refuses to step down and was reportedly a target of an assassination attempt earlier today, in yet another political rift in the OPEC oil producer.

The renewed political chaos, after a failed election scheduled for end-December 2021, threatens to bring back chaos to Libya’s divided institutions and raises the prospect of renewed conflict and blockades of oil ports and other energy infrastructure.

The east-based Parliament on Thursday named former interior minister Fathi Bashagha to serve as a new interim prime minister.

But Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, the prime minister leading the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNU), refuses to step down and to recognize the Parliament’s choice.

The Parliament said that al-Dbeibah and his government are no longer valid.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar welcomed the appointment of Bashagha.

It was LNA troops—with help from affiliated groups—that had blockaded Libya’s oil ports for nearly eight months in 2020, when Libya was barely producing and exporting any oil.

Meanwhile, al-Dbeibah reportedly survived an assassination attempt earlier on Thursday, a source close to the interim government he heads told Reuters. So far, none of Libya’s authorities has made any comment on the issue.

After a blockade of several Libyan oilfields in December and early January, Libya managed to restore its oil production to 1.2 million bpd by the middle of last month. A pipeline shutdown for urgent repairs and a blockade of several fields, including the country’s largest oilfield, Sharara, plunged Libya’s oil production to below 800,000 bpd in early January. The blockade by the Petroleum Facilities Guard had forced Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) to declare force majeure on exports from several ports.

The return of chaos in Libya doesn’t bode well for its oil production, and another major supply outage could push oil prices higher.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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