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Libya: Haftar Restores Control of Oil Fields to Tripoli Govt.

Libya: Haftar Restores Control of Oil Fields to Tripoli Govt.

Thursday, 12 July, 2018 - 06:30
A view shows Ras Lanuf Oil and Gas Company in Ras Lanuf, Libya. (Reuters)

Libyan National Army Commander Khalifa Haftar made a surprise announcement on Wednesday when he said that control of oil exports from its eastern production heartland will be handed over to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

The decision led to the resumption of oil exports from eastern Libya after they came to a halt for over two weeks due to a dispute between the two rival powers over the management of the strategic sector.

The western-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) had declared force majeure on oil loadings at the ports, a legal measure that frees parties to a contract from their obligations due to circumstances beyond their control.

But on Wednesday it announced "the lifting of force majeure" at the Al-Hariga, Zweitina, Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra ports, which are conduits for much of the crude, gas and petrochemical sales that form the lifeblood of Libya's economy.

NOC chairman Mustafa Sanallah hailed the LNA for its decision to “place national interest above all else.”

He also thanked GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, the parliament and international community for their efforts to resolve this crisis.

In addition, Sanallah urged the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance to publish their budgets and called for "a proper national debate on the fair distribution of oil revenues".

"It is at the heart of the recent crisis," he said.

"The real solution is transparency... Libyan citizens should be able to see how every (penny) of their oil wealth is spent."

The NOC said in early July that the oil crisis had slashed crude production by over four fifths and cut the country's heavily oil-dependent public revenues by some $67.4 million (57.9 million euro) per day.

Libya produced 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil before Moammar al-Gaddafi’s ouster in February 2011. Production fell by about 20 percent after the revolution, before recovering to one million bpd by the end of 2017.

The NOC, under a UN resolution, has been in charge of managing the oil crescent and export revenues, even though the LNA seized control of the region in 2016.

The revenues are transferred to the GNA-affiliated central bank which is tasked with distributing the funds to "all regions and administrations", including zones under the control of the eastern authorities.

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