(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
The Maltese-flagged oil tanker, the Seachance, began loading a shipment of oil on Thursday from the Marsa al-Hariga port in eastern Libya after an agreement was reached between Libya’s Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) and a rival oil company in the east.
Exports from the Hariga port have been blocked since the beginning of May due to a standoff between the parallel oil company in the east, which is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), and the legitimate NOC in the west, which is aligned with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
The Tripoli-NOC had been waiting to load the Seachance with 650,000 barrels of oil for a company called Glencore to be sent to the United Kingdom.
The agreement to resume oil shipments was reached during the Vienna summit on Libya between Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of the Tripoli-NOC and Nagi Emagrabi, the chairman of the eastern-based oil company.
“We agreed to keep the National Oil Corp. neutral, away from political conflicts,” Elmagrabi said.
Production from the Messla and Sarir oil fields, two of Libya’s major oil fields, has dropped to less than 100,000 barrels per day from 230,000 bpd after the Marsa al-Hariga blockade.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said after attending talks in the Vienna on Monday that only the GNA can keep the state oil company going and that it must receive full international support.
Libya is producing less than a quarter of the 1.6 million barrels per day of oil it was producing in 2011 before the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. After labor strikes and attacks on oil fields, it is now the smallest oil producer of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), pumping less than 300,000 barrels a day.