Armed groups should leave Libyan oil facilities before production resumes - NOC chairman

Armed groups must withdraw from Libya’s energy infrastructure to allow oil exports to resume, the chairman of the country’s National Oil Company (NOC) said on Friday.

Oil production in Libya has been limited since January when groups linked to the Libyan National Army (LNA) closed key pipelines, cutting revenue to the rival Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.  

Negotiations to end the blockade have repeatedly faltered, including an agreement announced by the United States for the LNA to allow production to resume last week, which has yet to materialise.

However, unnamed NOC officials told Bloomberg that GNA Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq had met LNA leader General Khalifa Haftar’s son in Russia last week and agreed a shared proposal.

But this appears to have been rejected by the NOC chairman Mustafa Sanallah. “The NOC regrets the state of affairs that’s led an unauthorized party to politicize the oil sector and use it as a bargaining chip,” Sanallah said in a statement.

Instead, Sanallah reiterated that oil infrastructure should first be demilitarised, making specific reference to the Wagner Group, a private security company linked to Russia that is reported to be aiding the LNA.

Libya holds Africa’s largest oil reserves, but production has fallen from over 1.2 million barrels per day to less than 100,000 according to Oilprice.com.