(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
The National Oil Corporation (NOC), Libya’s state oil company, announced on Thursday that force majeure has been lifted on Libya’s biggest oil terminals and exporting will begin shortly.
“Exports will resume immediately from Zueitina and Ras Lanuf, and will continue at Brega … exports will resume from Es Sider as soon as possible,” said Mustafa Sanalla, the NOC’s Chairman.
According to Sanalla, both the UN-backed Libyan unity Government (GNA) based in Tripoli and the parliament based in Tobruk have agreed to the reopening.
The terminals had been forcefully taken over by General Khalifa Haftar, the GNA’s chief rival, over the weekend.
After visiting Zueitina a day earlier, Sanalla said, the “NOC is in charge of the ports. They are secure, and we have been in contact with our foreign commercial partners.”
The US, along with other western powers, spoke against Haftar’s forceful seizure of the oil terminals and in a joint statement said they were willing to prevent oil sales from Libya that were not approved by the GNA.
The conflict between Haftar and the GNA “had the potential to escalate, with potentially devastating consequences for the nation and our petroleum industry,” said Sanalla. “Instead, we have found a shared interest in letting the oil flow, and the wisdom of that decision needs to be recognised.”
Libya is currently exporting 290,000 barrels per day (bpd) and can increase to 600,000 bpd in a month and to 950,000 by December, said Sanalla.
Sanalla also added that the NOC is in need of more funds and called for the blockade on the pipelines in southwest Libya to be lifted.
Libya’s economy has been crippled since the 2011 uprising left a power and security vacuum in the country after Muammar Gaddafi’s death. The oil sector has been especially hit hard, as various armed groups and political factions vied for control of Libya’s main source of revenues.
On Thursday, a tanker was reported to have docked to load a shipment of crude oil at the terminal in Ras Lanuf, which has not been open since 2014, and another tanker docked at Brega, which was was always open. Both tankers were scheduled to load oil from the terminals before Haftar’s ambushed the terminals earlier this week, said a port official.
Also on Thursday, Nafoura oilfield continued its oil production, which was interrupted in November 2015, said the official. Nafoura oilfield was producing 25,000 to 30,000 bpd before it was shut down.