Libya oil tap gushes 1.2-M barrels per day

Crude revenues can help Libya return to normalcy

A picture taken on June 3, 2020 shows an oil refinery in Libya’s northern town of Ras Lanuf. – Libya’s National Oil Company said Monday it had restarted production at Al-Fil oil field, closed since January by the forces of eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar. The NOC’s announcement came a day after output resumed at Al-Sharara oil field, the country’s largest, following a string of victories against Haftar by forces backing Libya’s Tripoli-based unity government. (Photo by AFP)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AFP) — Libya’s oil production has returned to the volume recorded before a months-long blockade that paralyzed the economy, official sources said on Sunday.

“We are happy to announce that our production rates have reached the pre-force majeure levels” of 1.2 million barrels per day, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Twitter.

Oil and Gas Minister Mohammed Aoun told AFP that he “confirms” production has returned to that level.

Western diplomatic sources said the eastern-based rival government agreed to reopen the facilities in exchange for a share of oil revenues for spending in regions under its control.

The deal, which has not been confirmed officially, also saw the Tripoli-based government of Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah replace veteran NOC head Mustafa Sanalla with Farhat Bengdara.

Bengdara is reportedly close to the United Arab Emirates, which supports the eastern-based government.

On 15 July, Libya’s new oil chief lifted force majeure at all the country’s oil fields and export terminals as militias besieging several installations ended a blockade that had begun in mid-April.

Force majeure is a legal measure allowing companies to free themselves from contractual obligations in light of circumstances beyond their control.

The NOC, vital to oil-rich Libya’s economy, has repeatedly resorted to the mechanism amid blockades of oil installations through years of violence and political upheaval following the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-backed revolt that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Conflict in recent years broadly pitted authorities in the capital Tripoli against a camp in the east, where parliament is based.

As the country’s divided authorities struggled for power, groups close to the eastern camp blockaded six oil fields and export terminals over demands for a more “equitable distribution” of hydrocarbon revenues.

Oil production fell to around 400,000 barrels of crude per day during the mid-April to mid-July blockade.

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