(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Libya’s oil output is quickly grinding to a halt due to the standoff between the National Oil Corporation (NOC), the official institution based in Tripoli, and the oil company based in Tobruk at the Marsa al-Hariga port.
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.
If the blockade continues, oil production will halt within a month, “we will have to shut production completely because the tanks at Hariga will be full,” Mohamed Harari, a spokesman for the NOC said on Monday.
The eastern-based House of Representatives’ (HoR) established an oil company that has been used to prevent the official Tripoli-based NOC from loading a shipment of oil for Glencore at the Hariga port, which is located in Tobruk and accounts for a bulk of Libya’s crude oil exports, in response to their unsuccessful attempt to export oil last month.
The eastern oil company’s attempt to sell oil independently from the Tripoli-NOC, which is by Libyan law the only legitimate exporter of oil in Libya, saw its Indian-flagged oil tanker, the Distya Ameya, blacklisted by the United Nations and forced to return to Libya to be unloaded.
Libya is already producing less than a quarter of the 1.6 million bpd of oil it was producing in 2011 before the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi and this standoff could further deplete Libya’s revenues.
The dispute is part of a broader power struggle of the eastern government and the House of Representative (HOR). The Tripoli NOC which is state run by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has outlined a plan to restore Libya’s oil production to pre-2011 levels; however, it continues to face obstacles from the HOR in the east who have yet to give the unity government’s cabinet a vote of confidence.
On Sunday the eastern oil company issued a statement saying that there were no plans to stop oil exports from Marsa al-Hariga port, however it was troubled by the contract between the Tripoli NOC and Glencore, which allows the company to exclusively lift oil from Hariga, calling the deal “totally unfair,” reported Reuters.
NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla called for the opening of “the ports for the wellbeing of our country,” stating that “unity is the only solution,” reported Bloomberg.