(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
An agreement to open two oil ports was finally reached between the UN-backed government in Tripoli (GNA) and the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) which has been protecting the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider oil ports in eastern Libya. The ports were shut down due to clashes between various militia groups in eastern Libya back in December 2014. Since many armed groups in Libya have been competing for control over the oil ports.
The GNA’s presidential council and the PFG did not disclose any of the terms included in the agreement neither did they make any mention about the day in which the ports would commence exporting.
It is expected that the ports will not export right away because of damages incurred requiring repairs and possible disruptions that could come from the National Oil Corporation (NOC).
On Thursday the GNA sent members of its Presidential Council to Ras Lanuf to hold a press conference with Ibrahim Al-Jathran who leads the PFG brigade.
At the press conference Mousa Alkouni, the deputy of the Presidential Council said “I am pleased on behalf of the Presidential Council to announce, as I am hopeful and optimistic, the resumption of the exports of Libyan oil from the ports. This is the beginning of the restoration of our country.”
Ali Hassi, the spokesperson for PFG at the press conference, said that they have not decided on the official reopening day for the posts as NOC would need to be involved in that discussion. Hassi did verify that the GNA and PFG have signed an agreement regarding the reopening of the two oil ports.
Ongoing chaos and clashes in Libya, in additional to the threat by ISIS, has caused a reduction in oil production and exports from Libya to less than a quarter of the amount exported before the Libyan uprising in 2011.
PFG blocked access to the ports in 2013 claiming that they were attempting to stop bad oil sales. The PFG has been criticized for the blockade by some who deny there was any corruption.
Theoretically some have predicted that exports could potentially increase to 600,000 barrels a day with the reopening of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider. The NOC on the other hand says that due to damages it would be difficult in the beginning to export more than 100,000 barrels a day.
Mustafa Sanalla, the NOC’s chairman, has disputed the deal between the GNA and PFG. The way Sanalla sees it PFG should not be paid to end the blockade of the two oil ports. Sanalla warns that this could potentially give incentive to other armed groups to launch similar blockades to get money from the GNA. The NOC has gone as far as threatening to no longer recognize the authority of the Presidential Council.