(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
An Oil tanker sent by the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) began to load a shipment of oil on Thursday from the Zueitina oil port after forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar allowed the tanker to dock, said an official from the port.
Earlier this month, concerns were expressed by the NOC regarding potential clashes between the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) and forces loyal to Haftar that could cause damages to the oil port.
An agreement between the PFG and the UN-backed unity government (GNA) ended the blockade at Zueitina and two other major oil ports, however Haftar’s forces, who are rivals of the GNA and PFG, threatened to interfere with oil production and exports.
Haftar’s forces recently repositioned themselves closer to the Zueitina port. No violence has been reported yet, but Haftar’s forces have not explained why they changed their position.
Officials said the port remains closed, yet the tanker began emptying reservoirs at the oil port.
A statement made by the NOC said the storage tanks at Zueitina contain around 3.08 million barrels of crude oil and 180,000 barrels of condensate.
“NOC can confirm, that after considerable efforts, we have received the consent from all relevant parties to permit the Greek flag vessel New Hellas to enter Zueitina terminal in order that it will transfer a shipment to Zawiya refinery” located in Western Libya, said the statement.
New Hellas will be transporting to Zawiya around 620,000 barrels of oil at a time and more vessels will join the process as soon as possible.
Mustafa Sanalla, the NOC’s chairman said, “I want to express my appreciation to all sides for heeding our request. It was the right thing to do and I think shows that when the opportunity arises, we Libyans can do the right thing. Instead of all being harmed, all will benefit.”
Libya’s oil exports have dropped from 1.6 million barrels a day to just around 200,000 barrels a day. The drop happened during the 2011 uprising that brought the downfall of the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.